If the skies seemed unusually crowded last year, exports may be partly responsible. U.S. air exports broke all previous records last year for shipments, revenue and tonnage, according to The Colography Group, an Atlanta-based research and consulting firm. Total air export shipments increased 8 percent over 2004 levels to 92.4 million during 2005, breaking the 90 million mark for the first time. Those shipments translated into record-setting revenue of $9.5 billion and a total tonnage of 6.2 billion pounds.
The Colography Group's report says that the new highs reflect a resilient global economy and the residual impact of a weak U.S. dollar. It adds that the trend also demonstrates airfreight's importance in optimizing global supply chain performance and driving down inventory-carrying costs.
While some cargo was flying high, other shipments were taking the low road. Domestic ground parcel traffic also reached new highs in 2005, with shipments breaking the 4 billion barrier for the first time, at 4.1 billion. Ground parcel tonnage was over 42 billion pounds, up 5 percent from the previous year, and revenue exceeded $26 billion, which was up 8 percent from 2004 levels.
The Colography Group sees the gains as further evidence that U.S. commerce has migrated to a short-haul, regional model, where goods are transported less than 600 miles via lower-cost surface transport.
Though not setting any records, both LTL shipments and domestic airfreight also showed healthy growth. Some 131.1 million LTL shipments brought in revenue of $22.8 billion last year. That was up from 128.3 million shipments and $20 billion in 2004. Tonnage also increased to 17.4 billion from 17.0 billion. And a little over 2.5 billion domestic airfreight shipments moved through the U.S. skies in 2005, slightly above 2004 levels. Revenue of $33.5 billion topped the previous year's revenue by $1.6 billion. Tonnage was 17.4 billion pounds in 2005.