U.S. air exports shattered all-time records in 2005 for shipments, revenue and tonnage, reflecting a resilient global economy, the residual impact of a weak U.S. dollar and airfreights importance in optimizing global supply chain performance and driving down inventory carrying costs, The Colography Group, Inc. said today in releasing two of its annual reports on the U.S. airfreight and expedited trucking markets.

In addition, domestic ground parcel traffic set records in 2005, continuing its positive momentum since the turn of the century, The Colography Group said.

Domestic airfreight and less-than-truckload traffic, while posting year-over-year gains, have still not returned to their all-time highs set in 2000, according to the reports.

Air export shipments in 2005 approached 92.4 million, the first time shipments exceeded the 90 million annual mark. Export traffic increased nearly 8% from 2004 levels. Revenue of $9.5 billion and tonnage of 6.2 billion pounds were also all-time records.

Ground parcel shipments broke the four billion barrier for the first time, finishing 2005 at 4.1 billion shipments, paced by a surge in fourth-quarter volumes. Tonnage exceeded 42 billion pounds and revenue surpassed $26 billion, both all-time records and a year-over-year increase of nearly 5% for tonnage and more than 8% for revenue.

Slightly more than 2.5 billion domestic airfreight shipments moved in U.S. commerce last year, just above the 2.45 billion shipments that moved in 2004. Revenue of $33.5 billion was $1.6 billion above 2004 levels. Tonnage rose to 17.4 billion pounds from 17.0 billion.

LTL shipments rose to 131.1 million from 128.3 million in 2004. Revenue of $22.8 billion was nearly $2 billion ahead of 2004 revenue, a function of accelerated fuel surcharge pass-throughs. Tonnage of 139 billion pounds rose from 2004 levels of 136.2 billion.

Last year was a splendid one for U.S. air exports as the vestiges of a weaker dollar, combined with resilient end-markets across the globe, created strong demand for the mode, said Ted Scherck, President, The Colography Group. Beyond the macro factors, however, the results demonstrate that airfreight is an increasingly vital force in enabling global trade and supporting world-class international inventory models.

As for the records in ground parcel activity, Scherck commented, Last year continued the long, secular trend of gains in this sector. As we have said many times in the past, U.S. commerce has migrated to a short-haul, regional model where goods are delivered and distributed less than 600 miles via lower-cost surface transport. As we move well into 2006, we see nothing on the horizon to change this trend.

The data was extracted from two of The Colography Groups publications that cover expedited air and surface transport trends: the U.S. Domestic Surface Traffic And Yield Analysis By Competitor And Market Segment, and the U.S. Domestic And Export Air Traffic And Yield Analysis By Competitor And Market Segment.

Among some of the findings from the publications:

  • In another example of the regionalization of U.S. commerce, regional LTL carriers increased their shipment share of the total market to 80.6% from 80% in 2004. By contrast, the national LTL operators saw their share fall to 19.4% from 20%.
  • Overnight shipments made up 42.2% of all domestic air cargo shipments in 2005, down slightly from a 42.4% share in 2004. Deferred, or non next-day packages, increased their share to 57.2% from 56.8%.
  • FedEx and UPS actually saw slight declines in air export shipment share in 2005. DHL Express and the U.S. Postal Service, by contrast, saw slight gains. The air export market share held by the six major players remained steady at 76.6% of all shipments
  • UPS controlled 68% of the ground parcel shipment share at the end of 2005, by far the largest share. However, its share dipped from the 68.8% reported at year-end 2004. FedEx Ground and DHL Express gained modest share, while USPS share declined incrementally.

About the U.S. Domestic And Export Air Traffic And Yield Analysis By Competitor And Market Segment and the U.S. Domestic Surface Traffic And Yield Analysis By Competitor And Market Segment

The two reports provide quarterly and annual estimates of the results for the leading companies that transport goods by air and ground in the domestic markets, and by air in the U.S. air export market. The reports are used to study competitive trends, analyze changes in the mix of business, measure share and growth by market segment and/or level of service, and identify competitor strengths and weaknesses.

About The Colography Group, Inc.

In its 23rd year, The Colography Group, Inc. delivers primary research, strategic planning and new program development services to businesses looking to identify and capitalize on growth opportunities in the global time-definite, or expedited, cargo market, as well as to governments worldwide. Its suite of proprietary databases is based on information gained from detailed interviews with hundreds of thousands of shippers. Through these interviews, The Colography Group extracts market intelligence that clients use to effectively plan their transportation strategies. The Colography Group is based in Atlanta.