March 2020 U.S. Airline Cargo Data (Preliminary): International Cargo Weight Down 14%

U.S. airlines carried 1.4% less cargo by weight in March 2020 than in March 2019, according to preliminary data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 15 of the leading cargo airlines.

The 15 airlines carry more than 95% of the total cargo by weight on U.S. airlines. Cargo data consists of freight and mail carried within the U.S. and between the U.S. and foreign points.

March 2020 cargo numbers for the 15 carriers:

  • Total: 1,455 thousand tons, down 1.4% from March 2019 (1,475T tons)
  • Domestic: 1,098 thousand tons, up 3.4% from March 2019 (1,062T tons)
  • International: 357 thousand tons, down 13.6% from March 2019 (413T tons)

U.S. air cargo reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final March data will be released on June 11.  Complete international data by origin and destination will be released on September 11.

Systemwide Cargo (Domestic + International)

March 2020 would be the third consecutive month and the sixth month in the last seven that the total weight of cargo on U.S. airlines declined from the same month of the previous year. The 1.4% decrease from March 2019 was larger than the decreases from 2019 in both January (-0.5%) and February (-0.1%).

Table 1: Systemwide Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo by Weight from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2016-2020Cargo = Freight + MailYear-to-Year Percent Change

  2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
January 6.4 10.5 5.1 -0.5
February 6.1 9.2 -0.3 -0.1
March 8.0 5.8 -0.2 -1.4*
April 2.6 5.9 4.4  
May 10.8 9.0 3.1  
June 6.8 5.5 -1.1  
July 6.9 6.7 3.5  
August 9.7 5.0 0.2  
September 4.3 5.0 -4.4  
October 10.6 5.5 -1.2  
November 10.6 -0.6 -2.3  
December 5.6 0.3 0.7  
Annual 7.4 5.4 0.6  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market

* March 2020 data is preliminary

Domestic Cargo

March 2020 would be the fourth consecutive month that the weight of domestic cargo on U.S. airlines rose from the same month of the previous year. The 3.4% increase from March 2019 was larger than the increases from 2019 in both January (2.8%) and February (2.2%). The December 2018 to December 2019 increase was larger at 4.5%

Table 2: Domestic Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo by Weight from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2016-2020Domestic cargo has a U.S. origin and U.S. destinationCargo = Freight + MailYear-to-Year Percent Change

  2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
January 4.6 10.4 6.1 2.8
February 4.9 8.7 0.7 2.2
March 7.1 4.0 -0.4 3.4*
April 1.5 4.9 7.7  
May 10.8 8.9 4.5  
June 5.4 4.5 0.5  
July 5.2 6.7 6.2  
August 9.4 4.8 0.1  
September 3.3 4.3 -2.9  
October 11.1 5.7 1.8  
November 11.3 -0.1 -1.8  
December 5.1 0.1 4.5  
Annual 6.7 5.0 2.2  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market

* March 2020 data is preliminary

International Cargo

U.S. airlines cargo declined 13.6% by weight in March 2020 from March 2019, the largest of seven consecutive year-to-year declines.

Table 3: International Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo by Weight from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2016-2020International cargo on a U.S. airline is carried between a U.S. airport and a foreign airport.Cargo = Freight + MailYear-to-Year Percent Change

  2016-2017 2017-2018 2018-2019 2019-2020
January 11.4 10.6 2.2 -9.8
February 9.6 10.4 -3.1 -6.3
March 10.5 10.7 0.4 -13.6*
April 5.3 8.2 -3.9  
May 11.0 9.2 -0.6  
June 10.8 8.2 -5.2  
July 11.3 6.7 -3.6  
August 10.6 5.6 0.4  
September 7.2 7.0 -8.3  
October 9.4 5.0 -8.7  
November 8.8 -1.8 -3.5  
December 7.2 0.9 -10.6  
Annual 9.4 6.5 -3.8  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 International Market

* March 2020 data is preliminary