Air cargo at Harlingen’s VIA continues slump in January

Air cargo tonnage at Valley International Airport continues its downward trend, paralleling global numbers. (Rick Kelley/Valley Morning Star)

HARLINGEN — Air cargo numbers at Valley International Airport continue to slide compared to the busy period which coincided with the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Overall air cargo is down by double-digits compared to January 2022.

Outgoing cargo, led by FedEx, was down 28.6 percent in January, while total incoming cargo was down 35.3 percent.

“Our cargo continues to be down compared to what it was,” Marv Esterly, director of aviation at VIA, told the airport board last week. “There’s still no real explanation, except for we had the shortages. But the supply change issues, as well as everybody was cooped up and buying a lot of Amazon, and everything else and that definitely pushed those numbers up in the past.”

FedEx outgoing cargo was actually up 7.3 percent, and Southwest Airlines cargo also was up by 23.0 percent for the month.

But a huge falloff in cargo shipped by DHL and its subsidiaries skewed the numbers negative.

Airport officials hope construction on a longer runway, which has just begun, eventually will result in an increase in air cargo flying to and from VIA since planes will be able to load more tonnage with the longer take-off and landing option.