Editor’s note: The Arkansas Transportation Report is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by the Arkansas Trucking Association and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. Other transportation industry related stories can be found on the Arkansas Transportation Report landing page.
Traffic through the first three months of 2017 on the Arkansas River (McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System) totaled 3.246 million tons, up 10% compared to the January-March period of 2016. It’s the first time since 2014 (3.062 million tons) that tonnage on the Arkansas River has topped the 3 million mark the first three months of the year. There were 1.154 million tons shipped.
Inbound tonnage on the Arkansas River in the January-March period totaled 1.271 million tons, down 2% compared to the same three-month period in 2016. Outbound tonnage was 1.250 million tons, up 32%, and internal tonnage (tons shipped between ports on the river) totaled 724,588 tons, up 3%.
ENPLANEMENTS STILL RISING
Traffic continues to rise at the state’s three largest commercial airports through the first three months of 2017, with Fort Smith still setting the pace.
Enplanements — or outbound passengers — at Fort Smith Regional Airport, the state’s third-largest airport, totaled 20,236 in the January-March period, up 11.65% from the same three-month period in 2016. March enplanements totaled 7,528, up 8.26% from 6,953 enplanements in March 2016.
Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport (XNA) in Highfill, the second-largest airport in the state, totaled 147,138 in January-March, up 6.98% from 137,540 in the year-ago period. March enplanements totaled 55,396, up 8.5% from 51,022 enplanements in March 2016.
After a start to the year that was essentially flat, enplanements at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock are now on the rise, from 215,071 in January-March in 2016 to 221,244 in the same period this year, up 2.87%. March enplanements actually jumped at Clinton National Airport, from 79,080 a year ago to 85,028 this year.
SHIPMENTS FALL SLIGHTLY, EXPENDITURES STAY POSITIVE
The March Cass Freight Shipments Index came in at 0.9% growth over the same month in 2016, weaker than the 1.9% February year-over-year change, but it’s worth noting that March 2016 was one of the least negative months for the shipments index and therefore serves as a tougher comparison.
The 0.9% year-over-year increase in the March Cass Shipments Index is yet another data point suggesting the first positive indication in October, which broke a string of 20 months in negative territory, may have indeed been a change in trend.
After taking a positive turn for the first time in 22 months in January, freight expenditures (the total amount spent on freight) continued trending upward in March, up 3.0% over the year-ago period of March 2016. Cass uses data from $26 billion in annual freight transactions to create the Index. The data comes from a Cass client base of more than 350 large shippers.
Link here for a PDF of the April 2017 Transportation Report.