Logistics Trends: Fedex to Handle More Ground Shipments than Air in '05

Narrowing gap between air and surface shipments an ongoing trend, Colography Group reports

Narrowing gap between air and surface shipments an ongoing trend, Colography Group reports

Atlanta  May 23, 2005  For the first time in its history, FedEx Corp. this year is expected to transport more domestic ground shipments than domestic air shipments, according to a forecast released today by research organization The Colography Group.

Colography estimated that slightly more than 50 percent of FedEx's 2005 domestic shipments will move either via its ground parcel services (FedEx Ground) or its less-than-truckload (LTL) subsidiary (FedEx Freight). About 48.9 percent of its domestic shipments will move in ground parcel services, while slightly more than 1.1 percent will move via LTL.

The research group projected that shipments moving via air (FedEx Express) will comprise 49.9 percent of FedEx's shipment mix. This marks the first time the percentage of FedEx's domestic traffic moving by air has fallen below 50 percent in a given year.

"This is a watershed event, but not an unexpected one," said Ted Scherck, president of The Colography Group. "The gap between FedEx's air and surface shipment mix has been narrowing for the past seven years, starting about the time FedEx acquired the parent of the former Roadway Package System and challenged UPS' dominance of the domestic ground parcel segment."

Scherck added: "If our projections are accurate, this trend will persist for years to come with surface transport representing an ever-larger share of FedEx's U.S. shipping mix. This reflects the growing role of ground transportation in the national economy."

The data driving the FedEx forecast was extracted from two newly released Colography Group publications that track expedited air and surface transport activity on a quarterly and annual basis: "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."

Among some of the findings from both publications:

  • U.S. domestic ground parcel shipments rose to 3.94 billion in 2004, up from 3.73 billion in 2003. FedEx Ground gained the most market share year-over-year, with DHL Expressthe combined DHL/Airborne Expressincreasing its share slightly. UPS remained the market leader, but its year-over-year share dipped slightly.

  • Total LTL shipments rose by approximately 5.4 million to 127.2 million. Revenue rose $2 billion to $20.09 billion. Of the five "super-regional" carriers  FedEx Freight, Overnite Transportation, ABF Freight System, the Con-Ways and USFreightways  FedEx Freight, ABF Freight and the Con-Ways gained shipment share year-over-year. Yellow Roadway, the lone national carrier, lost shipment share year-over-year.

  • Domestic air shipments in 2004 totaled 2.45 billion and generated revenue of $31.84 billion. This represented a year-over-year decline in shipment count but an increase in revenue, underscoring the impact of fuel surcharge pass-throughs on carriers' revenue streams. The U.S. Postal Service held the largest shipment share, followed by FedEx Express, UPS Air and DHL.

  • Due to fuel surcharge pass-throughs, revenue for the average overnight air shipment rose strongly in 2004, ending the year at $18.11. Revenue for the typical deferred air shipment also increased through 2004, ending the year at $9.19.

  • U.S. air exports posted robust gains in 2004, with shipment count climbing to 85.5 million from 79.2 million in 2003. Revenue rose strongly to $8.4 billion from $7.5 billion in 2003.
Information about the FedEx data, as well as other original content, will be found in the May issue of The Colography Group's e-newsletter, The Hourglass, which is due to be available online at the research firm's Web site.

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

For more information on the latest trends in the logistics space, see the article "The Analyst Corner: Fulfillment & Logistics" in the October/November 2004 issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive.