News Column

El Paso Airport: Freight Up, Passenger Traffic Down

Jan. 22, 2013

Vic Kolenc, El Paso Times, Texas

c El Paso's airport passenger traffic declined almost 2 percent last year while freight shipments increased more than 3 percent, new data show.

The El Paso airport was used by 2.89 million airline passengers last year -- 57,337 fewer passengers than in 2011, the airport reported last week.

Fare increases and economic uncertainty played a part in decreasing the airport's passenger count in 2012, Tom Fullerton, an economics professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, reported in his latest "Borderplex Economic Outlook: 2012-2014," recently published by UTEP.

Fullerton projects El Paso airport passenger traffic will grow this year, and in 2014. However, he reported, changes in travel habits, such as more business meetings being conducted online, may prevent traffic from expanding as rapidly as in prior economic recoveries. The UTEP forecast projects that airport passenger departures will increase 1.5 percent this year, and passenger arrivals will increase 4.6 percent in 2014. Southwest Airlines continued to have the largest passenger share in El Paso even though its El Paso passenger count was virtually flat last year, the data show.

Southwest had 52 percent of the El Paso airline market last year, with American Airlines a distant second at just over 23 percent. American's passenger count increased almost 3 percent in El Paso last year.

The number of daily airline departures declined by two flights last year to 55 departures by December, the airport reported.

On the cargo side, the El Paso airport handled 94,524 tons of freight last year -- 3,107 tons more than in 2011.

Federal Express, or FedEx, continued to be the largest cargo carrier at the El Paso airport, but its freight tonnage declined in 2012 by 1.5 percent, the airport data show. Federal Express handled 67,039 tons of freight at the El Paso airport last year. United Parcel Service, or UPS, was the next big freight carrier with 13,268 tons handled at the El Paso airport in 2012. That's 10 percent more than UPS handled at the El Paso airport in 2011.

Fullerton expects the upward trend in the airport's freight shipments to continue this year and next year, with shipments of freight and mail projected to exceed 100,000 tons by 2014, the UTEP economic outlook shows.

Source: (c)2013 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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