Opposition groups celebrate after Amazon pulls out of massive air hub deal at Newark Airport

$307 million project would have built two 250,000 SF air cargo facilities, created 1,000 jobs

Community and labor organizers celebrated the decision by Amazon to abandon their proposed deal to build an air cargo hub at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Amazon’s decision, announced Thursday night, was certainly a victory for labor in the state, but it remains unclear how it will impact e-commerce or Amazon (the state’s largest private employer) moving forward.

The air cargo hub project was announced with much fanfare in August 2021, as the $307 million global would have given Amazon a 20-year lease through the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to build two 250,000-square-foot air cargo facilities next to the airport, letting the company significantly expand its footprint in the tri-state region.

Amazon officials said the hub would bring approximately 1,000 workers to the airport.

Union and community leaders immediately offered objections, citing safety and social justice concerns. Among those voicing complaints were the Ironbound Community Corporation, South Ward Environmental Alliance, Clean Water Action NJ, Teamsters Local 863 and Make the Road NJ.

Some elected officials – including Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, Elizabeth Mayor Chris Bollwage, Congressmen Donald Payne (D, 10th district) and Donald Norcross (D, 1st District), State Sen. Joe Cryan (D, Union) and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D, Elizabeth) – also expressed concerns.

In June, 15 federal, state and local elected officials sent a letter to the Port Authority demanding an end to the deal.

Port Authority officials, in a statement, said they ultimately were unable to reach a final agreement with Amazon.

“Unfortunately, the Port Authority and Amazon have been unable to reach an agreement on final lease terms and mutually concluded that further negotiations will not resolve the outstanding issues,” chief operating officer Huntley Lawrence said.

Cryan said the pullout is a big win for the state.

“Today, workers’ rights and dignity won in a battle against corporate interests, and I am so thankful to the Port Authority of NY/NJ for siding with the workers,” he said. “This effort could not have been

possible without the hard work and grassroots organizing efforts of legislators and advocates such as Make the Road New Jersey, who fought long and hard for fair employment protections.”

Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, agreed.

“We welcome any company, including Amazon, that is willing to treat its workers and the surrounding community with dignity and respect,” he said. “Amazon, however, abandoned Newark because it refused to be a good neighbor and a good employer.”

Terrance Bankston, NJ Environmental Justice Organizer at Clean Water Action, said it was all about protecting the neighborhood.

“The park and airport were my backyard growing up as a child,” he said. “We know better than anyone how polluted our communities are.

“So, we stood up and took action, and Amazon was forced to step down. This is a huge victory for Newark, Elizabeth and the rest of New Jersey. Our coalition is committed to setting higher standards: No more bad jobs, and dirty air in black and Latinx communities. Our community deserves protection.”