News Article | 2/13/2007

Asia drives D/FW cargo record

Growing trade between the U.S. and Asia drove record-setting international cargo levels at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport last year, officials said Monday.

Cargo operators at the world’s third-busiest airport carried more than 280,000 metric tons to international destinations last year, or 12.9 percent more than 2005. A metric ton equals 2,204.62 pounds.

Several carriers expanded their cargo schedules between D/FW and Asia last year, contributing to an increase of 21.1 percent for Asian freighters such as China Cargo Airlines.

Total cargo volume was relatively flat at about 756,600 metric tons, as higher fuel prices pushed some domestic shippers to send items by truck, officials said.

The D/FW figures mirror trends at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, where air cargo grew 13.7 percent to a record 250,479 metric tons in 2006, thanks to additional air charter flights and new FedEx Corp. service to Asia.

Alliance’s previous record was set in 2000, when it attracted 242,210 metric tons in air cargo business.

Bill Frainey, D/FW’s assistant vice president for marketing, said the trends reflect growing ties between North Texas companies and the fast-growing Asian market.

“This is a red hot market,” Mr. Frainey said of North Texas.

Mr. Frainey said demand for air-freight services has outstripped the growth in capacity over the last five years, even as carriers add new service at D/FW.

During 2006, D/FW welcomed expanded Boeing 747 service from several carriers and new warehouse and distribution space to handle additional business.

• Air France added service to Paris once a week, connecting North Texas manufacturers of oil-drilling equipment to important African and Middle Eastern markets in the French carrier’s network.

Luxury goods, such as perfume and champagne, are imported into D/FW from France.

• China Cargo added two weekly freighters to Shanghai, expanding its schedule to six per week.

• Air China Cargo launched service to Beijing three times a week.

• Cathay Pacific Cargo expanded its service to Hong Kong to four weekly flights.

• Singapore Airlines Cargo added a third “round-the-world” flight that continues on to Brussels, Belgium, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, before heading back to Singapore.

The carrier also operates two flights that head west, stopping in Hong Kong and Singapore.

• United Parcel Service Inc. opened a heavy-air-freight hub late last year.

• Trammell Crow Co. opened a nearly 400,000-square-foot cargo facility, doubling the airport’s adjacent warehouse and logistics space on its west side.

Globally, air freight grew an estimated 5 percent in 2006, said Robert Dahl, project director for the Air Cargo Management Group in Seattle. The typical rate is between 5 percent and 7 percent.

The air-freight business could face pressure in 2007, though, as rising fuel costs push some shippers to consider sending goods by ship, train or truck.

Over the first 11 months of 2006, the most recent data available, trade between the U.S. and China exceeded $313 billion, surpassing trade with Mexico.

After Canada, Mexico has been the U.S.’s No. 2 trade partner in recent years.

Ray Perryman, a Waco economist, said that while Mexico and Canada continue to be Texas’ top trading partners, the remaining top 10 trading partners are dominated by Asian nations, a trend he expects will continue.