VIA cargo numbers slump in October

FedEx air cargo numbers were down for July, but overall Valley International Airport is showing a 5.2 percent increase in air cargo for the year. (Valley Morning Star file photo)

HARLINGEN — Cargo numbers at VIA for October showed a sharp decline from a year ago, down 40 percent for the month, airport officials revealed last week.

Cargo numbers at VIA and at other airports have been a welcome bright spot given the decline in passenger numbers, as strong online retail sales mean more packages being delivered via air freight.

The primary reason for VIA’s October cargo swoon was a significant reduction in tonnage by the air freight carrier ABX, a subsidiary of DHL, which was down 82.5 percent from the previous year.

The problem? So much air cargo is being shipped it has made it economically feasible for direct flights from Monterrey to Cincinnati, bypassing the usual stopover at VIA.

“Our cargo you’ll see a significant reduction in ABX as DHL has decided that there’s enough capacity to fly with all the new cargo increasing nationwide and worldwide, they’re actually flying nonstop out of Monterrey to Cincinnati,” Marv Esterly, director of aviation, told the airport board last week “… They’re still doing very well here.”

Among the other cargo carriers using VIA, FedEx was up 17 percent and Southwest was down 47 percent for the month, primarily due to fewer regular passenger flights, which often fill unused luggage space with cargo.

Cargo demand worldwide was strong in October, up 6.2 percent, but the recovery is continuing at a slower pace, International Air Transport Association officials said earlier this month.

North American air cargo also was up 6.2 percent, and the biggest problem is lack of capacity, since so many passenger planes are idle due to lack of seat demand, said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO.