New Orleans Customs Port ranked fifth among all U.S. international air freight gateways by value of shipments, and sixteenth overall by value among all freight gateways—airports, seaports, and land ports in 2003. About 5 percent of the value of U.S. international air merchandise moves through the New Orleans Customs Port. By weight, this customs port ranked eighth among all air gateways, with 3 percent of U.S. international air merchandise moving through it.1
The international air merchandise trade moving through the New Orleans Customs Port has two components—air trade through the Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans and air trade moved by Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) facilities located at the Memphis International Airport in Tennessee. The addition of FedEx’s Memphis operation to Louis Armstrong International Airport to form the Customs New Orleans air gateway is an accounting adjustment made by the Foreign Trade Division of the U.S. Census Bureau because the carrier’s export and import paperwork are filed at New Orleans. As a result of this adjustment, it is not possible to separate the value of air cargo passing through the New Orleans Customs Port into the portion handled by FedEx at Memphis and that handled by the Louis Armstrong International Airport.
If considered separately, Memphis International Airport by itself would be one of the largest international air freight gateways in the United States (ranked 25th among U.S. international airports by value in 2003). But it is not listed among the top 25 overall freight gateways profiled in this report because the value of its FedEx operations is added to that of New Orleans Customs Port.
By weight, BTS air freight tonnage data show that international air cargo moved by FedEx through Memphis International Airport (253,047 short tons) in 2003, accounted for nearly all (over 99 percent) of the total tonnage (253,294 short tons) moved through the New Orleans customs gateway.
The FedEx facility at the Memphis International Airport is a major hub for air trade with our NAFTA partners—Canada and Mexico—and with Europe. In terms of merchandise goods transported on nonstop international flight segments, Canada, Mexico, and the United Kingdom are the top three destinations for exports while Canada, France, and Mexico are the top three origin countries for imports moved by FedEx through Memphis. In total, the top three destination countries accounted for 68 percent of the export tonnage and the top three origin countries accounted for 57 percent of the import tonnage handled at Memphis. The origin and destination markets for international air cargo by FedEx are the same as those on nonstop international flight segments.2
Between 1999 and 2003, the value of trade through the New Orleans Customs Port increased by 18 percent—32 percent for exports and 7 percent for imports. During the same period, the tonnage of international merchandise goods attributed to this port increased by 63 percent—80 percent for exports and 51 percent for imports. These increases can be attributed to the growth of international air trade transported by FedEx through Memphis International Airport.
1 Weight information based on Form 41 International Market Data from Office of Airline Information, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.
2 Based on Form 41 International Market Data from Office of Airline Information, Bureau of Transportation Statistics.