U.S. airlines carried 1.3% less cargo by weight in April 2020 than in April 2019 with a 15% decline in international cargo, 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.

April 2020 preliminary air cargo numbers for the top 15 U.S. carriers:

  • Total: 1,409 thousand tons, down 1.3% from April 2019 (1,429T tons)
  • Domestic: 1,086 thousand tons, up 3.8% from April 2019 (1,046T tons)
  • International: 324 thousand tons, down 15.4% from April 2019 (383T tons)

U.S. air cargo reports are filed monthly with BTS. Final April data will be released on July 16.  Complete international data by origin and destination will be released on Oct. 16.

Systemwide Cargo (Domestic + International)

April 2020 would be the fourth consecutive month and the seventh month in the last eight that the total weight of cargo on U.S. airlines declined from the same month of the previous year. The 1.3% preliminary decrease from April 2019 was smaller than the 1.6% March year-over-year decline from 2019.

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 -1.6
April 2.6 5.9 4.4 -1.3*
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

* April 2020 data is preliminary

Domestic Cargo

April 2020 would be the fifth consecutive month that the weight of domestic cargo on U.S. airlines rose from the same month of the previous year. The 3.8% preliminary increase from April 2019 would be the largest increase from the previous year since December 2019 when airlines carried 4.5% more cargo than in December 2018.

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 3.1
April 1.5 4.9 7.7 3.8*
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

* April 2020 data is preliminary

International Cargo

U.S. airlines cargo shipments declined 15.4% by weight (preliminary) from April 2019 to April 2020, the largest of eight 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 -13.9
April 5.3 8.2 -3.9 -15.4*
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

* April 2020 data is preliminary

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