U.S. international air cargo falls

U.S. international air cargo falls

Cargo carried by U.S. airlines fell 0.4 percent in September as dismal performances by the trans-Atlantic and Latin American markets offset modest growth on domestic and trans-Pacific routes.

Freight and express shipments to and from Latin America plunged 16 percent from a year ago, according to data compiled by the Air Transport Association, a trade group representing most U.S. airlines, including FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service. Total international volume declined 4.2 percent as trans-Atlantic shipments fell 9.4 percent while trans-Pacific volume inched up 0.9 percent. International mail gained 1.2 percent, trimming the total decline in international traffic to 4 percent.

The international figures likely reflect the impact of the strengthening dollar against the euro, making purchases of European imports more expensive. The weaker dollar did little to boost U.S. air exports to Europe.

Asian currencies have not strengthened nearly as much as the euro. Since the Hong Kong dollar and the Chinese yuan are pegged to the dollar, currency fluctuations have had no effect on the cost of their exports to the U.S. The Japanese yen has also risen more slowly against the dollar than the euro.

Domestic freight and express was up 2.7 percent, likely reflecting the robust growth in the U.S. economy. Domestic mail shipments increased 15.9 percent, pushing total domestic cargo up 3.4 percent.

Total cargo volume, including mail, is up just 0.5 percent year-to-date, with freight and express 0.6 percent higher than a year ago. Mail fell 0.9 percent in that time. Total international traffic is flat as a 7.9 percent gain in mail offset a 0.3 percent drop in freight and express.

Domestic volume year-to-date is up 1 percent, with freight and express up 1.5 percent and mail down 5.3 percent.