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Port Canaveral, Orlando airport to cooperate on passengers, cargo

Both boards agree to work to improve movement of passengers, goods

Phillip Brown, executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, talks about the future and coming changes on Wednesday afternoon the Canaveral Port Authority and Greater Orlando Aviation Authority   MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY
Phillip Brown, executive director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, talks about the future and coming changes on Wednesday afternoon the Canaveral Port Authority and Greater Orlando Aviation Authority MALCOLM DENEMARK/FLORIDA TODAY

PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. – One board oversees a seaport, and the other an airport. But the Canaveral Port Authority and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority have found common ground to work together.

News 6 partner Florida Today reported that during a joint meeting of the two boards on Wednesday at Port Canaveral's Cruise Terminal 10, they agreed to work to improve the "movement of passengers and goods" along the corridor between the port and the airport "for the enhanced economic benefit of the region."

Although the discussion was vague, one possibility is to work together to find a way to move passengers and cargo between Port Canaveral and Orlando International Airport via rail, potentially along the State Road 528 corridor.

"That's an ideal corridor," Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Executive Director Phillip Brown said. "Rail would be an effective way to move passengers and also goods."

All Aboard Florida plans to build a rail line from the airport to the Cocoa area as part of its planned Brightline passenger rail service from Orlando to Miami. Although there are no Brevard County stops planned now, there potentially could be one in the future.

Canaveral Port Authority Chairman Jerry Allender said All Aboard Florida "has been willing to listen to the possibility of having a stop in Brevard County."

Port Canaveral Chief Executive Officer John Murray said after the meeting that the airport probably would take the lead on any such passenger rail efforts, since it already is working with All Aboard Florida on the rail connection to Orlando International Airport.

Brown said any rail line involving the port would need community buy-in and an environmental review.

"It's not going to happen overnight," Brown said.

Among more immediate joint efforts, the port and the airport agreed to work together to devise parking and ground transportation approaches; to work with federal agencies on addressing customs and security needs; and to seek more cargo business.

Murray and Brown also provided updates during the meeting on various expansion plans for the seaport and the airport.

Murray focused much of his presentation on the port's cargo business.

He said Port Canaveral must become better known in the cargo industry.

"Most of the world still does not know our name, where we are or what we offer," Murray said. "We need to get ourselves into the international limelight."

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Chairman Frank Kruppenbacher joked that maybe Port Canaveral should add "Orlando" to its name.

In other developments during the 1½-hour meeting:

• The boards discussed ways to work together to seek money for replacement of a drawbridge along State Road 401 with a more modern bridge structure. That road is a key entrance to the port.

• Port Canaveral and Orlando International Airport debuted a joint marketing video. The video emphasizes enhanced customer service and pursuing joint commercial opportunities.

This is the second time that the port and airport boards have held a joint meeting. The first was in February 2014.

Kruppenbacher credited their earlier cooperative efforts for helping Orlando International get new air service from United Arab Emirates-based Emirates Airlines, as well as for Port Canaveral working out a deal with UAE-based Gulftainer to operate the port's cargo container terminal though the company's Port Canaveral-based unit, GT USA.

"It's been a great working relationship between the port and the airport," Allender said.

In terms of passenger counts, Port Canaveral is the world's second busiest cruise port and Orlando International is the nation's 14th busiest airport.

Brown said about 58 percent of Port Canaveral's passengers arrive in the region via Orlando International Airport.