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April 2020 U.S. Airlines Cargo (Preliminary): International Shipments Down 15%

Release Number: 
BTS 39-20
Date: Wednesday, June 17, 2020

U.S. airlines carried 1.3% less cargo by weight in April 2020 than in April 2019 with a 15% decline in international cargo, according to preliminary data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 15 of the leading cargo airlines.

The 15 airlines carry more than 95% of the total cargo by weight on U.S. airlines. Cargo data consists of freight and mail carried within the U.S. and between the U.S. and foreign points.

April 2020 preliminary air cargo numbers for the top 15 U.S. carriers:

  • Total: 1,409 thousand tons, down 1.3% from April 2019 (1,429T tons)
  • Domestic: 1,086 thousand tons, up 3.8% from April 2019 (1,046T tons)
  • International: 324 thousand tons, down 15.4% from April 2019 (383T tons)

U.S. air cargo reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final April data will be released on July 16.  Complete international data by origin and destination will be released on Oct. 16.

Systemwide Cargo (Domestic + International)

April 2020 would be the fourth consecutive month and the seventh month in the last eight that the total weight of cargo on U.S. airlines declined from the same month of the previous year. The 1.3% preliminary decrease from April 2019 was smaller than the 1.6% March year-over-year decline from 2019.

Table 1: Systemwide Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo by Weight from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2016-2020
Cargo = Freight + Mail
Year-to-Year Percent Change
 
2016-2017
2017-2018
2018-2019
2019-2020
January
6.4
10.5
5.1
-0.5
February
6.1
9.2
-0.3
-0.1
March
8.0
5.8
-0.2
-1.6
April
2.6
5.9
4.4
-1.3*
May
10.8
9.0
3.1
 
June
6.8
5.5
-1.1
 
July
6.9
6.7
3.5
 
August
9.7
5.0
0.2
 
September
4.3
5.0
-4.4
 
October
10.6
5.5
-1.2
 
November
10.6
-0.6
-2.3
 
December
5.6
0.3
0.7
 
Annual
7.4
5.4
0.6
 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market

* April 2020 data is preliminary

Domestic Cargo

April 2020 would be the fifth consecutive month that the weight of domestic cargo on U.S. airlines rose from the same month of the previous year. The 3.8% preliminary increase from April 2019 would be the largest increase from the previous year since December 2019 when airlines carried 4.5% more cargo than in December 2018.

Table 2: Domestic Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo by Weight from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2016-2020
Domestic cargo has a U.S. origin and U.S. destination
Cargo = Freight + Mail
Year-to-Year Percent Change
 
2016-2017
2017-2018
2018-2019
2019-2020
January
4.6
10.4
6.1
2.8
February
4.9
8.7
0.7
2.2
March
7.1
4.0
-0.4
3.1
April
1.5
4.9
7.7
3.8*
May
10.8
8.9
4.5
 
June
5.4
4.5
0.5
 
July
5.2
6.7
6.2
 
August
9.4
4.8
0.1
 
September
3.3
4.3
-2.9
 
October
11.1
5.7
1.8
 
November
11.3
-0.1
-1.8
 
December
5.1
0.1
4.5
 
Annual
6.7
5.0
2.2
 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

* April 2020 data is preliminary

International Cargo

U.S. airlines cargo shipments declined 15.4% by weight (preliminary) from April 2019 to April 2020, the largest of eight consecutive year-to-year declines.

Table 3: International Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo by Weight from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2016-2020
International cargo on a U.S. airline is carried between a U.S. airport and a foreign airport.
Cargo = Freight + Mail
Year-to-Year Percent Change
 
2016-2017
2017-2018
2018-2019
2019-2020
January
11.4
10.6
2.2
-9.8
February
 
9.6
10.4
-3.1
-6.3
March
10.5
10.7
0.4
-13.9
April
5.3
8.2
-3.9
-15.4*
May
11.0
9.2
-0.6
 
June
10.8
8.2
-5.2
 
July
11.3
6.7
-3.6
 
August
10.6
5.6
0.4
 
September
7.2
7.0
-8.3
 
October
9.4
5.0
-8.7
 
November
8.8
-1.8
-3.5
 
December
7.2
0.9
-10.6
 
Annual
9.4
6.5
-3.8
 

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 International Market

* April 2020 data is preliminary

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial U.S. air carriers detailing operations, passenger traffic and freight traffic. This release includes data received by BTS from 15 U.S. airlines as of June 9.

See the BTS Airlines and Airports page for additional U.S. airlines numbers through March for U.S. airlines. International data by origin and destination is available through December 2019.

BTS has scheduled July 16 for the release of final reported data through April.

None of the data are from samples. Measures of statistical significance do not apply to the complete air traffic data.

Updated: Wednesday, June 17, 2020