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In all three cases, cargo revenues amounted to a small percentage of overall earnings. Alaska, for example, pulled in $1.32bn in passenger revenues of the same quarter, which may suggest that losses in cargo are easily offset elsewhere. While Q3 cargo revenue numbers were up at the Seattle-based carrier, nine-month measurements were down 1 percent to $82m, suggesting a slower start to the year. Alaska did not post traffic data.
United’s traffic presented a different picture, with cargo tonne miles for Q3 up 11.6 percent, despite the aforementioned 4.7 percent decline in revenues. United cited lower fuel costs in relation to a decline in total operating expense as a reason for the results, suggesting that there is more to the story than just low oil prices.
The increased volumes at United are in line with global trends. Many of the world’s major cargo carriers and airports have now reported their September results, and the news is almost uniformly positive. Cargo traffic for the month was up 15.7 percent, y-o-y, for United and up 9.8 percent, y-o-y, for American Airlines.
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