U.S. Air Exports, Domestic Ground Parcel Set Records in 2005

Resilient global economy, weak dollar, airfreight's importance in optimizing global supply chain performance weigh, Colography Group reports

Resilient global economy, weak dollar, airfreight's importance in optimizing global supply chain performance weigh, Colography Group reports

Atlanta — June 5, 2006 — 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 airfreight's importance in optimizing global supply chain performance and driving down inventory carrying costs, according to new reports from The Colography Group.

In addition, domestic ground parcel traffic set records in 2005, continuing its positive momentum since the turn of the century, Colography said in the new reports "U.S. Domestic Surface Traffic and Yield Analysis by Competitor and Market Segment" and "U.S. Domestic and Export Air Traffic and Yield Analysis by Competitor and Market Segment."

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

Breaking 90 Million Shipments

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

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 percent for tonnage and more than 8 percent 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.

Fuel Surcharges a Factor

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, according to Colography. 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 of Colography. "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."

Among other findings from the two reports:

  • In another example of the "regionalization" of U.S. commerce, regional LTL carriers increased their shipment share of the total market to 80.6 percent from 80 percent in 2004. By contrast, the national LTL operators saw their share fall to 19.4 percent from 20 percent.

  • Overnight shipments made up 42.2 percent of all domestic air cargo shipments in 2005, down slightly from a 42.4 percent share in 2004. Deferred, or non next-day packages, increased their share to 57.2 percent from 56.8 percent.

  • 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 percent of all shipments.

  • UPS controlled 68.0 percent of the ground parcel shipment share at the end of 2005, by far the largest share. However, its share dipped from the 68.8 percent reported at year-end 2004. FedEx Ground and DHL Express gained modest share, while USPS' share declined incrementally.
The two Colography 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.

Additional Articles of Interest

— Thinking about automating your warehousing operations? Take a strategic stance with this helpful guide: "The Analyst Corner: Warehouse Management," in the April/May 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.

— Manufacturers of all size are struggling to meet that challenges of managing their product information across global supply chains. Read more about the challenges of getting to one version of the truth in "Nothing But the Truth," in the April/May 2006 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.