Los Angeles International Airport, California-Air Freight Gateway

Los Angeles International Airport, California-Air Freight Gateway

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was the nation’s second busiest international airfreight gateway by value of shipments in 2003. And it was the seventh leading gateway when compared with all U.S. freight gateways—airports, seaports, and land ports.

In 2003, about 12 percent of the value of all U.S. international air freight moved through LAX. By weight, LAX ranks fourth among all air gateways, with 7 percent of U.S. international air freight moving through it.

LAX is a major U.S. hub for trade with Pacific-rim countries. The major origin and destination markets for merchandise goods moving through LAX are South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, accounting for nearly 50 percent of the total tonnage trans­ported1. In terms of merchandise transported on nonstop international flight segments, Seoul, South Korea is the top origin point for imports, while London, England emerges as the top destination for exports.

Between 1999 and 2003, the tonnage of international air freight passing through LAX rose 6 percent; imports grew by 7 percent while exports rose by 3 percent. By value, air cargo through LAX declined 5 percent; exports fell by 9 percent and imports fell slightly (less than 1 percent). Some of the major commodities exported through LAX are vegetables, fruits, and nuts; clothing; computer equipment; and medical instruments, while the leading imports are apparel, computer equipment, audio and video media, and office machinery.2

By comparison, the value of international air freight moving through LAX ($64 billion) is less than one-third of the value of international maritime freight moving through the regional seaports of Los Angeles and Long Beach ($218 billion). In total, these air and sea ports accounted for $282 billion in international merchandise trade in 2003; followed by the New York area where the John F. Kennedy International Airport and the seaports of New York/New Jersey accounted for $213 billion in international trade. These large amounts of freight emphasize the importance of the two West Coast and East Coast cities as leading U.S. gateways for their respective regional economies as well as for the entire nation.

A large number of domestic and international, passenger and cargo carriers operate out of LAX. The top three air carriers moved 25 percent of the weight of air imports and 18 percent of the weight of air exports handled at LAX in 2003. Korean Air Lines carried most of the imports while the Mexican cargo car­rier, Aerotransportes Mas De Carga, transported most of the exports out of LAX.

1 Based on Form 41 International Market Data from Office of Airline Information, Bureau of Transportation Statistics. Origin-destination airport-pair data by value are not available from the merchandise trade data.

2 Commodity information available from LAX website at http://www.lawa.org/lax/laxframe.html as of Sept. 18, 2004.