Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has become the leading destination in the United States for imports of N95 respirators, masks and similar personal protective equipment (PPE), which are included in a trade category that has increased an astonishing 20,433% at LAX this year, according to a new industry analyst report.
Data from WorldCity, which tracks import-export intelligence for ports around the United States, shows LAX is significantly outperforming the national average in overall cargo trade in 2020, and that the airport has become the nation’s leading port for the category that includes many types of respirators and masks. So far this year, LAX has imported about $3.36 billion worth of these critical supplies, followed by the Port of Los Angeles with $3.33 billion. LAX now accounts for about 23% of these national imports so far this year, compared to 0.51% in 2019. The Port of Los Angeles now accounts for 22% of these imports nationwide. Among only U.S. airports, LAX accounts for 42% of these imports.
“LAX is consistently one of the nation’s leading airports for cargo, and we are proud that we have quickly become a critical hub for personal protective equipment and medical supplies that are distributed from Los Angeles to cities around the country,” said Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). “We are thankful for our cargo operators, airlines and our federal partners as we work together to tackle the global pandemic by moving goods safely and efficiently through LAX.”
The increase in this PPE was so sharp in July that LAX was ranked No. 6 among more than 450 U.S. airports, seaports and border crossings, for total trade cargo. For all of 2019 and through August of this year, LAX ranks ninth. Among only U.S. airports, LAX ranks third in total trade so far this year.
From January to August 2020, LAX trade totals about $74 billion, a slight decrease of about 4.31% compared to the same time last year, which outperforms the national average, which has declined 13.21% so far this year.
“Airports around the country are suffering mightily from the lack of passenger traffic, but a number of them, led by LAX, are proving critical in the nation’s fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ken Roberts, president of WorldCity. “From LAX’s incredible increase in imports of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment, to surges in imports of plasma and blood fractions at Chicago’s O’Hare, airports are doing quite well relative to overall U.S. trade.”
Although overall LAX cargo volume decreased between 7-9% during March and April, it rebounded strongly in the third quarter and is currently 3.12% higher through the end of September as compared to the same time last year, even as the airport faces a continued decline in passenger traffic. In September, the airport reported 225,466 tons of air cargo, up 21.2% from the same month in 2019. The September numbers are the highest ever for a single month at LAX, with the prior record being 216,447 tons in October 2018.
In 2019, LAX moved a total of 2.3 million metric tons of cargo worth $118 billion. The Los Angeles Customs district, which includes the Post of Los Angeles, led the country in total trade last year with $428.23 billion worth of goods.