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San Diego International (SAN) opened a new receiving and distribution center (RDC) on November 19 ahead of the launch of its new concessions program slated for December 1. The RDC, a 23,000 sq. ft. central delivery location for food, beverage, retail and other goods, is operated by Bradford Airport Logistics.

The $9.8M facility was build through a public-private partnership with Aviation Facilities Company, Inc. SAN said the model allowed the airport authority to acquire essential facilities without using its bonding capacity, as well as build the project more quickly than would have been possible using a traditional public works construction model.

Nyle Marmion, manager, concession development for SAN, says the new operation removes 50-75 truck trips per day off Harbor Drive, the main thoroughfare into the airport, routing them instead to a single facility on the north side of the airport. Bradford Airport Logistics will receive the goods, check everything in and distribute to individual concessionaires’ stores or storage units.

Marmion says efficiencies will improve. “Bradford is working with [concessionaires], consolidating their deliveries,” he says. “Say they would previously get 10 deliveries a day. The concessionaire would have to have someone meet the delivery and process the goods and get them to the stores. Now the concessionaire can cull down the 10 deliveries from 10 different vendors to one or two deliveries.”

The new facility also offers a safety benefit. “In some cases today, the trucks go airside, driving amongst the aircraft that are taxiing to and from the runway,” Marmion says. “Instead of having multiple deliveries by multiple drivers we’ll have fewer deliveries with drivers who know the airport well.”

Costs to concessionaires are based on a percentage of sales. Marmion admits that costs will be “a bit higher,” but adds, “it was all divulged in the RFP process that we were going to this new model so they incorporated that in their financial offer to the authority.”

The RDC began receiving goods on November 19 but won’t begin making deliveries until overnight on November 30, when the SAN concessions program goes through a single-night changeover to its new concessions program. The airport is changing from a longtime master concessionaire model to a multiple primes model. Among the winners are HMSHost Corp., High Flying Foods, SSP America, The Paradies Shops, Hudson Group, PGC-PCI, Stellar Partners, ZoomSystems and Project Horizon.

Marmion says the concessionaires and the airport are ready for the overnight switch. “It will be history in the making around here,” he says. “We’re ready to go and excited.”

For the RDC itself, the San Diego Airport Authority is pursuing Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification from the U.S. Green Build Council. If successful, SAN says the award will mark the first LEED Gold-certified receiving and distribution center in the world.