New executive director has big plans for Kinston's Global TransPark

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KINSTON, N.C. (WITN) - Every so often, you many look up and see a massive Russian air cargo plane landing at the Kinston jet port at the Global TransPark.

While the GTP hasn't really taken off itself financially, the new executive director, Allen Thomas, says there's untapped potential at the TransPark.

The cargo plane is like a skyscraper with wings and it touches down in Kinston at least twice a week

To give you a little perspective of how large the Antonov An-124 is, it's about six stories high and it carries about 350,000 pounds of cargo.

"But the air cargo component of this is so impressive, to watch these large aircrafts come in here and be able to take an entire fuselage that are built here and manufactured here at GTP by Spirit Air and taken over to France and assembled, and it's really impressive," Thomas says.

The Russian plane, with it's crew of 20 men, can only fly into the Global TransPark because of the 11,500 foot runway. Planes in the presidential fleet will also touch-and-go landings there.

However, for years the viability of the park has been hit or miss as businesses would come and go.

$24 million was used to complete a rail spur from Kinston to Morehead City in 2015 so large cargo can be shipped from the TransPark to the port.

Thomas says there's more to come. "This is now established as a foreign trade site, which is a big advantage for companies that want to relocate in this part of the country, so we're excited about that and the opportunity going forward."

Thomas says the tremendous support they have could make this a world wide hub.

"I don't think many people across this part of the state have any idea how much commerce and activity that's happening here at the Global TransPark, over 1,300 jobs, over a 1,000 people on average making $59,000 here," he says. "It's really a well keep secret."