August 26, 2019 3:00 PM, EDT

Small Texas Airport Continues to Rise Among US Cargo Airports

Air cargo airplaneCargo gets loaded into an airplane. (Getty Images)

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Valley International Airport in Harlingen, Texas, is continuing its march up the charts when it comes to shipping cargo, airport officials say.

Marv Esterly, director of aviation for VIA, told the airport board last week that the last Federal Aviation Administration rankings of cargo airports as of 2018 showed the airport has moved to 71st in the nation in weight moved.

And while this year is not matching the previous year’s growth of 21.8%, so far for 2019 the airport’s cargo freight is increasing.

“Air cargo is also up for the year, 5.2% for the year,” he told the board.

Valley International Airport Harlingen, Texas

Lobby of Valley International Airport (VIA)

The biggest air cargo hauler at Valley International, FedEx, was down 10.7% in July. Southwest Airlines cargo was up 7.5%, while ABX Air (DHL is its largest client) was up 16.4%.

FedEx is down, Esterly said, because one of its Boeing 757s is currently operating out of a different airport.

“That’s why you see a little dip in their numbers,” he said. “Some interesting things are happening with DHL (ABX Air). DHL actually upstaged the size of their aircraft from 757-200 to 757-300.

“That actually is a larger aircraft than they used in the past,” he added. “But in any case, what they’re doing, the way I understand it, is trucking a lot of their freight from Laredo to here and filling the one plane here that comes from Monterrey. When it gets here, that freight comes from the Valley as well as Laredo, Texas.”

Esterly told the board that when he arrived in 2014 to take over at VIA the airport ranked 83rd in the nation in cargo tonnage. Then it moved up to 77th and last year came in as the 71st-busiest in the nation, moving 366 million pounds of cargo, making the airport the ninth-busiest air cargo shipper in Texas.

He predicts that once cargo numbers are in for 2019, VIA will continue its move up the list of busiest cargo airports in the nation.

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