The 2.4-million-square-foot FedEx Express Indianapolis National Hub at Indianapolis International Airport opened October 4, 1988, and is the company’s second-largest cargo facility, trailing only the company’s SuperHub in Memphis. In 2021, the facility employs about 700 full-time and 3,000 part-time workers, with the capability of sorting more than 2 million packages a day.

Federal Express Hanger, 1994
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

When FedEx opened its Indianapolis Hub in 1988, its 368 local employees worked in a 600,000-square-foot facility and with four daily flights. A $260 million five-phase expansion in 1998 nearly tripled the size of FedEx’s airport operations and doubled its sorting capacity, making it the nation’s second largest FedEx facility. At the time it was the largest and most expensive capital project in the company’s history. The much-needed space allowed for an additional 1,200 new employees, who were trained to use new automation devices.

In May 2006, Mayor Bart Peterson and the IAA formally announced a 400,000 square-foot expansion project for the FedEx Express hub. The three-phase project included: increasing the existing 1.9 million-square-foot sort facility by more than 600,000 square feet, which included additional gates; a new 175,000-square-foot secondary sort facility and two maintenance buildings; a 40,000-square-foot aircraft maintenance building and an 8,000-square-foot ground support equipment building; and five wide-body gates at the sorting facility, which were leased back to FedEx. FedEx used all 38 wide-body gates at the Indianapolis Hub at the time of the agreement, with options for up to 9 more gates to be constructed by Dec. 1, 2008. 

Federal Express Airplane, ca. 1980s
Credit: Indiana Historical Society

The first two construction phases were fast-tracked with the design and construction completed within 11 months. The IAA funded, constructed, and leased back to FedEx the first 5 wide-body aircraft gates by December 2006, in time for the holiday rush of packages. The third phase of the project accommodated parking for four more aircraft. 

Late in 2017, FedEx announced plans to build a $259 million 608,000-square-foot “hub-spinoff” distribution plant in Greenwood. After the city approved a $17.3 million 10-year tax break for the company and invested $2 million in road improvements, FedEx backed out of the deal in March 2018, citing company data that showed a distribution center was no longer needed in the area. But in 2020, the company reversed its position and signed a lease on a new warehouse facility that would add 500 full- and part-time jobs, investing more than $23 million in the project.

On January 26, 2018, FedEx Corporation made a $1.5 billion commitment to significantly expand its Indianapolis FedEx Express hub to be implemented in two phases over a seven-year period. The upgrades are part of the company’s effort to keep pace with the growth in e-commerce.

For this new project, Phase I enhancements were completed by the start of 2020. These upgrades included the installation of package-handling equipment that increased handling capacity from 99,000 packages per hour to 111,000 packages per hour and the addition of 16 aircraft gates which brought its total to 63–38 for wide-body aircraft and 23 for narrow-body aircraft. The expansion increased package processing capacity by more than 30 percent, from 79,000 packages per hour to 99,000 packages per hour.

The sorting hub also was the scene of the largest mass shooting in Indianapolis history. On April 15, 2021, eight people were killed and several more injured in a rampage at the FedEx Ground-Plainfield Operations Center, part of the FedEx Express hub. Nineteen-year-old Brandon Scott Hole, a former  employee, killed eight people, four of whom belonged to the Sikh community, before taking his own life. A 2020 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department report showed the 19-year-old viewed white supremacist websites one year prior. 

FedEx’s presence in Indianapolis has helped the airport remain one of the top-10 largest cargo airports in the country.

Revised July 2021
 

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