U.S. airlines reported their worst quarter for cargo ever in the first three months of 2009, recording a 21.1 percent decline in traffic despite signs of growing demand late in the quarter.
The carriers saw traffic fall 20.9 percent in March from the same month a year ago, but the Air Transport Association also saw traffic measured in cargo ton miles grow 11.7 percent from February to March. That was the first month-to-month increase the ATA carriers have seen since October.
Traffic in all regions fell at a steep rate, including a 28 percent drop in trans-Pacific trade and a 17.7 percent year-over-year slide in domestic traffic.
But Pacific air shipping, which had dropped to levels last seen in 2002, also grew 22.9 percent on a month-to-month basis. Domestic shipping also edged up 7.6 percent from February to March.
That still left the American carriers with their lightest overall quarter for cargo traffic since 1998 and more recent reports from individual carriers suggest demand remains weak even if it has stabilized. United Airlines reported its freight traffic declined 28.6 percent in April and was about flat with the demand in March.
Contact Thomas L. Gallagher at firstname.lastname@example.org .