Aug. 12--Chicago O'Hare International Airport has seen a spike in cargo volume during the first half of the year, adding to evidence that the freight business at O'Hare is recovering from the deep nationwide recession, an official said.
Air cargo volume at O'Hare increased 8.5 percent in the first six months of the year, compared to the same time period in 2013, according to the Chicago Department of Aviation. In June 2014 alone, O'Hare's cargo tonnage rose 11 percent over the same month last year, it said.
The airport has seen declining cargo volumes in recent years, according to department statistics, down about 0.6 percent in 2013 and down 4.1 percent in 2012.
"Air cargo creates billions of dollars in economic activity and supports thousands of jobs in the Chicago region," said Rosemarie S. Andolino, aviation department commissioner. "This significant increase in cargo volume at our global gateway is a positive sign of recovery and growth following the global economic recession over the last few years that impacted cargo traffic at airports around the globe."
She added that with capacity created by the airport's modernization program and development of new cargo facilities, O'Hare "is well positioned to be one of the world's leading hubs for air cargo."
About 30 cargo carriers serve O'Hare, including many of the largest freight carriers from China, Europe and the Middle East, the aviation department said. Chicago is the top national gateway for air exports to China, with more than 25 percent of the market, the department said. Besides dedicated freight carriers, many of the passenger airlines that serve O'Hare carry cargo in the belly of their aircraft.
While Chicago is the second-largest U.S. airport, next to Atlanta, for airline passenger traffic, it ranked only sixth for cargo volume last year, according to Airports Council International. However, with about $115 billion worth of freight handled annually, O'Hare ranks second among U.S. airports for the monetary value of its air cargo, the aviation department said.
With more than 738,500 tons of cargo handled for the first half of 2014, O'Hare is on track to reach approximately 1.5 million tons for the year, the department said. That's a level the airport hasn't seen since 2011, according to department data.
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