Commentary: American/US Airways combo a distant third in cargo
Last month, officials from American Airlines and US Airways finally made their $11 billion merger official, creating the largest airline in the United States.
But while it may create the biggest domestic passenger carrier in front of United and Delta, an analysis of the three carriers’ air cargo numbers shows the new American remains a distant third in the freight arena.
Cargo revenue at American declined from $171 million in 2011 to $170 million in 2012. At US Airways, cargo revenue finished the quarter at $41 million, a 3.9-percent decline when compared to the same period in 2011. For the year, 2012’s $155 million in cargo revenue ended as an 8.4-percent drop.
United Cargo emerged as the most active cargo carrier of the big three domestic airlines last year. The carrier’s cargo revenue fell 14.7 percent in the fourth quarter, dropping down to $243 million. On the year, a finish of $1.01 billion still represented a 12.8-percent decline. This result was good enough to outpace Delta. The carrier’s cargo revenue for the year declined from $1.02 billion in 2011 to $990 million.
Southwest, which continues to connect its networks with AirTran after its 2011 merger, has a steadily growing cargo operation that’s outpacing US Airways’ freight division. For the entire year, Southwest’s freight revenue came out at $160 million, a 15 percent improvement over 2011.
Until the merger is complete, nobody at American can speculate on what a combined carrier will look like on the cargo side.
“Although the companies have announced an intent to merge, there are still a lot of items that must be resolved before a transaction is finalized,” Matt Maynard, an American spokesman, said.
Maynard did point out, though, that American and US Airways officials expect to maintain all current hubs and services.
“The merger offers benefits to all key stakeholders of both American Airlines and US Airways,” he said. “As the new American Airlines evolves, we will continue to focus on our customers and operational integrity.” (Jon Ross)
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