Watch Now

Cargo activity at several Texas airports showed significant increases for first half of 2019

Trade increases with Mexico, Chile, Germany, The Netherlands and England

Air cargo at a several major and regional Texas airports showed increased global trade the past six months. Image: iStock

In Texas, several major and regional airports posted large increases in air cargo trade for the first six months of 2019.

Amarillo International Airport’s trade with the world rose a whopping 19,028 percent compared to the first six months of last year, with a shipment of aircrafts to Brazil accounting for 99 percent of the uptick, according to the latest analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from WorldCity.

The airport’s trade totaled $114.33 million through June 2019, compared to only $637,545 for all of 2018.

However, the $114 million in trade volume was due to the value of two airbus A320 wide body airplanes that were each worth $57 million.

The two planes are part of a fleet for Brazil-based Azul Airlines. They were flown into Amarillo in January. Each were repainted at International Aerospace Coatings in Amarillo, then flown south back to Boa Vista International Airport in Brazil.

The repainting was the “value added” to a “returned import” as those aircraft would have flown into the U.S. from Brazil for getting that work done, so they were temporary U.S. imports.

Amarillo is located in a region known as the Texas Panhandle, around 365 miles northwest of Dallas. Amarillo’s airport also exported $57,666 in computer parts to Hong Kong; and photo lab equipment and breathing appliances/gas masks to Canada ($6,293).

Air cargo volume at Valley International Airport in Harlingen rose almost 700 percent compared to the first six months of 2018, with Mexico and Chile accounting for 90 percent of trade.

Valley International Airport’s trade totaled $236,410 for the month of June, $13.22 million through June of 2019, and $24.4 million for all of 2018, according to WorldCity.

Harlingen is located in deep south Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, around 25 miles from the United States-Mexico border. 

“In some cases, it makes more sense for companies to work with smaller airports for regularly scheduled deliveries or ad hoc deliveries because their rates are going to be different from the larger airports in the region,” said Scott Case, president of the International Air Cargo Association of Chicago, who is also a contributing writer at FreightWaves.

Harlingen airport’s top exports for the first half of 2019 were wrist/pocket watches ($5.2 million) to Mexico. Other top exports were civilian aircraft/parts and cell phones/related equipment.

While trade was up at most Texas airports, overall air cargo volumes are down roughly 4 percent to 5 percent throughout the industry through the first half of 2019.

Global air cargo demand dropped 4.8 percent in June compared to the same period in 2018, marking the eighth consecutive month of year-on-year decline in cargo volume, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association. 

Not all airports in Texas saw increases in trade volume for the first half of the year. Trade volume at regional airports in Lubbock, Sugarland, Fort Worth Alliance Airport, Midland International Airport and Dallas Love Field Airport all declined. 

However, it wasn’t only smaller, regional airports in Texas that posted increases for the first half of the year. Houston, Dallas and Austin all posted increases through June.

Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport’s trade with the world rose 10 percent, from $6.7 billion to $7.7 billion through the first six months of 2019 when compared to the same period last year.

Houston’s airport exported $4.7 billion in goods, while importing almost $3 billion through the first six months of 2019.

The Houston airport’s top trade partners were Germany, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, China and France. 

Its top exports were: civilian aircraft/parts; cell phones/related equipment; computers; tanks; and parts for heavy machinery. Those accounted for 35.89 percent of its total outbound trade. 

The Houston airport’s top imports were value-added to a returned import: cell phones/related equipment; aircraft, spacecraft, satellites; defense-related aircraft, parts; and taps, and valves for pipes, tanks, accounted for 39.76 percent of all inbound shipments.

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport’s (DFW) trade with the world rose 5.23 percent, from $27.6 billion to $29 billion through the first six months of 2019 when compared to the same period the previous year.

DFW’s exports have gone from $12 billion to $11.9 billion over the last 12 months, a drop of 1.2 percent. Imports have gone from $15.5 billion to $17 billion, a 10.3 percent increase. 

Through June, DFW’s top trade partners were Vietnam, China and South Korea. 

DFW’s top imports were cell phones and related equipment, which accounted for more than 50 percent of all inbound shipments. Plasma, vaccines, blood; aircraft engines, engine parts; and computers accounted for another 20.35 percent of all inbound shipments.

FreightWaves reporter Jesse Cohen assisted with this article.

Noi Mahoney

Noi Mahoney is a Texas-based journalist who covers cross-border trade, logistics and supply chains for FreightWaves. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in English in 1998. Mahoney has more than 20 years experience as a journalist, working for newspapers in Florida, Maryland and Texas. Contact [email protected]