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United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

U.S. Airlines Carried 9% More Cargo in March 2021 than March 2020 (Preliminary)

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

BTS 35-21
Contact: Dave Smallen
david.smallen@dot.gov

 

U.S. airlines carried 9% more cargo by weight in March 2021 (preliminary) than in March 2020. The rise was fueled by gains of nearly 4% in domestic cargo and 24% in international cargo, according to data filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) by 12 of the leading U.S. cargo airlines. March 2020 was the first month in which the pandemic started affecting air cargo totals.

The 12 airlines carry 95% of the total cargo by weight transported 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 2021 (preliminary) air cargo numbers for 12 U.S. cargo carriers:

  • Total: 1,582 thousand tons, up 8.7% from March 2020 (1,455T tons)
  • Domestic: 1,139 thousand tons, up 3.8% from March 2020 (1,098T tons)
  • International: 443 thousand tons, up 24.0% from March 2020 (357T tons)

U.S. airline traffic reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final March data will be released on June 10. Complete international data by origin and destination, which is under a six-month confidentiality restriction, will be release on Sept. 17.

Systemwide Cargo (Domestic + International)

  • March 2021 cargo: 1,582T tons
  • Change from March 2020: +8.7%
  • Change from February 2021: +14.8%
  • Recent high: December 2020 (1,854T tons)
  • Recent low: February 2020 (1,255T tons)
     
Table 1:  Systemwide Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo in pounds from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2017 - 2021
Cargo = Freight + Mail
  Year-to-Year Percent Change
  2017 - 2018 2018 - 2019 2019 - 2020 2020 - 2021
January 10.6 4.9 -1.4 13.5
February 9.3 -0.4 -0.4 9.8
March 5.7 -0.3 -1.4 8.7
April 5.7 4.5 -1.3                          -  
May 9.0 3.1 1.2                          -  
June 5.6 -1.2 9.5                          -  
July 6.6 3.6 12.8                          -  
August 4.8 0.2 5.7                          -  
September 4.9 -4.5 18.6                          -  
October 5.7 -1.2 13.0                          -  
November -0.7 -2.2 13.0                          -  
December 0.2 0.7 16.9                          -  
Year-to-date Jan - Mar 8.4 1.4 -1.1 10.7
Annual 5.4 0.5 7.3                          -  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Market
* March 2021 data is preliminary

 

Domestic Cargo

  • March 2021 cargo: 1,139T tons
  • Change from March 2020: +3.8%
  • Change from February 2021: +15.0%
  • Recent high: December 2020 (1,420T tons)
  • Recent low: February 2020 (944T tons)
  • Domestic as percent of total cargo March 2020: 75.5%
  • Domestic as percent of total cargo March 2021: 72.0%
     
Table 2: Domestic Percent Change in US Airlines Freight in pounds from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2017 - 2021
Domestic freight has a U.S. origin and U.S. destination
Cargo = Freight + Mail
  Year-to-Year Percent Change
  2017 - 2018 2018 - 2019 2019 - 2020 2020 - 2021
January 10.3 6.2 0.5 12.6
February 9.0 0.7 1.9 5.0
March 3.9 -0.2 3.4 3.8
April 4.9 8.2 3.8                          -  
May 9.0 4.6 4.7                          -  
June 4.6 0.7 13.3                          -  
July 6.7 6.7 15.8                          -  
August 4.7 0.2 7.2                          -  
September 4.1 -2.8 21.7                          -  
October 6.1 1.7 14.3                          -  
November -0.4 -1.6 13.6                          -  
December 0.1 4.6 15.9                          -  
Year-to-date Jan - Mar 7.5 2.2 1.9 7.1
Annual 5.0 2.4 9.8                          -  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 Domestic Market
* March 2021 data is preliminary

 

International Cargo

  • March 2021 cargo: 443T tons
  • Change from March 2020: +24.0%
  • Change from February 2021: +14.4%
  • Recent high: November 2020 (447T tons)
  • Recent low: February 2020 (311T tons)
  • Domestic as percent of total cargo March 2020: 24.5%
  • Domestic as percent of total cargo March 2021: 28.0%
     
Table 3: International Percent Change in US Airlines Cargo in pounds from the Same Month of the Previous Year 2017 - 2021
International freight on a U.S. airline is carried between a U.S. airport and a foreign airport.
Cargo = Freight + Mail
  Year-to-Year Percent Change
  2017 - 2018 2018 - 2019 2019 - 2020 2020 - 2021
January 11.3 1.5 -6.7 16.2
February 10.2 -3.4 -6.7 24.4
March 10.6 -0.5 -13.6 24.0
April 7.7 -4.5 -15.4                       -  
May 8.9 -1.0 -8.4                       -  
June 8.4 -5.7 -0.7                       -  
July 6.5 -4.1 4.5                       -  
August 5.2 0.1 1.6                       -  
September 6.8 -8.8 10.5                       -  
October 4.6 -8.7 9.5                       -  
November -1.5 -3.7 11.4                       -  
December 0.4 -10.7 20.1                       -  
Year-to-date Jan - Mar 10.8 8.7 0.7 7.5
Annual 6.4 -4.2 0.4                       -  

Source: Bureau of Transportation Statistics, T-100 International Market
* March 2021 data is preliminary

 

Reporting Notes

Data are compiled from monthly reports filed with BTS by commercial U.S. air carriers detailing operations, passenger traffic and freight traffic. This release includes data received by BTS from 12 U.S. airlines as of May13.

See the BTS Airlines and Airports page for additional U.S. airlines numbers through February 2021 for U.S. airlines. International data by origin and destination is available through November 2020.

None of the data are from samples. Measures of statistical significance do not apply to the complete air traffic data. Numbers in this release are not seasonally-adjusted. data is preliminary