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Air Exports, Ground Parcels Set Records

U.S. air exports shattered records in 2005 for shipments, revenue and tonnage, reflecting a resilient world economy, a weak U.S. dollar and airfreight’s importance in global supply chain performance and in reducing inventory carrying costs.

The Colography Group Inc., Atlanta, made these statements late last month in two of its annual reports on the U.S. airfreight and expedited trucking markets.

Domestic ground parcel traffic also set records in 2005, continuing momentum since 2000, the company said. However, domestic airfreight and less-than-truckload traffic, while posting year-over-year gains, have not returned to their highs set in 2000.

Air export shipments in 2005 approached 92.4 million, the first time shipments exceeded 90 million. Export traffic rose nearly 8 percent from 2004 levels. Revenue of $9.5 billion and tonnage of 6.2 billion pounds also were records.

Ground parcel shipments broke 4 billion for the first time, finishing 2005 at 4.1 billion shipments, paced by a surge in fourth-quarter volume. Tonnage exceeded 42 billion pounds and revenue surpassed $26 billion, both records and a year-over-year rise of nearly 5 percent for tonnage and more than 8 percent for revenue.

Slightly more than 2.5 billion domestic airfreight shipments moved in U.S. commerce last year, just above the 2.45 billion in 2004. Revenue of $33.5 billion was $1.6 billion above 2004. Tonnage rose to 17.4 billion pounds from 17.0 billion.

LTL shipments climbed to 131.1 million from 128.3 million in 2004. Revenue of $22.8 billion was nearly $2 billion ahead of 2004 revenue, a function of accelerated fuel surcharge pass-throughs. Tonnage of 139 billion pounds rose from 136.2 billion in 2004.

The Colography Group provides quarterly and annual estimates of results for leading companies that transport goods by air and ground in the domestic markets and by air in the U.S. air export market. Other findings:

· Regional LTL carriers increased their shipment share of the total market to 80.6 percent from 80 percent in 2004. National LTL operators saw their share fall to 19.4 percent from 20 percent.

· FedEx and UPS saw slight declines in air export shipment share in 2005. DHL Express and the U.S. Postal Service saw slight gains. The air export market share held by the six major players remained at 76.6 percent of all shipments.

· UPS controlled 68 percent of the ground parcel shipment share at the end of 2005, by far the largest share. However, its share dipped from the 68.8 percent reported at year-end 2004. FedEx Ground and DHL Express gained modest share while the USPS share declined incrementally.

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