CALIFORNIA PORTS 2007 - California offers wide choice for cargo airports

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By Karen E. Thuermer, AJOTCalifornia is consistently ranked among the ten largest economies of the world. It has long been regarded as a major gateway to and from the Asia Pacific. Not surprising, its major airports - Los Angeles International (LAX), Oakland International (OAK), San Francisco International (SFO) and Ontario International (ONT) are among the top 20 leading airports in North America for cargo, according to a 2006 survey by Airports Council International (ACI).
With 1,907,497 metric tons, LAX ranks 4th for North American airports; tenth among the world’s top 50. OAK, with 668,217 metric tons for 2006, ranked 12th in North America; 31st internationally; SFO with 594,857 metric tons and ONT with 493,952 metric tons 13th and 16th, respectively, in North America. The wide array of flights, especially from LAX and SFO, play a tremendous role in California’s commerce.
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)LAX operates as the largest US trans-Pacific gateway. FedEx has 20.6% share of its cargo, all of which is domestic. Korean Air is the largest international carrier operating at LAX with 5.9% share. Its January-June 2007 cargo volumes through LAX totaled 53,627 tons, compared to 50,329 tons for the same period a year earlier.
By comparison, Singapore Air Cargo and Eva Air run neck in neck as LAX‘s second largest international cargo carriers. Singapore Airlines Cargo handled 32,333 tons between January-June 2007; 38,418 tons for the same period in 2006; Eva Air, 33,199 tons and 36,001 tons, respectively. China Airlines also makes a good showing. Between January-June 2007 it handled 27,814 tons; 27,607 tons for the same period one year earlier.
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) officials are anxiously awaiting news from the US Department of Transportation (DOT) next month in hopes that United Airlines will be granted non-stop 747 service from LAX to Shanghai, China. Currently, Los Angeles is the largest US city without service to China by a US carrier.
While the Los Angeles-Shanghai proposal is competing with six other proposed routes from US cities to China (Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Chicago and New York), airport, government and airline officials with a vested interest in the route stress that none of the other proposals come close to offering the public benefit of the LA-Shanghai option. They believe they have a good argument for the case.
The Los Angeles-Shanghai market is far and away the most underserved of any US-China market being considered by the DOT. The Western US accounts for 50% of all traffic to China, yet only 20% of the US to China flights come from this region. California alone accounts for nearly one-third of all Shanghai traffic, far more than any other state. The City of Los Angeles estimates that a daily Los Angeles-Shanghai flight by United would contribute $647 million annually in economic output for the region’s economy, including: 4,070 incremental annual tons of air cargo imports, and 2,263 annual tons of air cargo exports.
“Our strategy is very clear: propose service from the cities and regions of the country with the most pressing demand,” says Michael Whitaker, senior vice president, United Airlines. “Our proposal will meet regional demand for service in an area significantly underserved.”
United expects the DOT to approve the route this fall with service to begin in March 2009.
“We supported United in their proposal,” says Mark Thorpe, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Director of Air Service Development. “We feel the service is a great opportunity and critical to us. For one, they want a bigger plane on the service than the others.” This would open up more opportunities for cargo.
Currently, United is only a minor player for LAX international freight. Between January-June 2997 it handled 38,550 air freight tons of which 9,469 air freight tons was international. For that period, United represents 4.05% of LAX airfreight business.
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American Journal of Transportation