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 was down in the first month of the year at two of Arkansas’ three busiest airports.
On the heels of a record-setting 2017, Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Highfill, enplanements—or outbound passengers— totaled 52,184 in January, a 5.5% increase from the same month in 2017.
XNA is the state’s second-largest airport, and saw a record 725,284 enplanements last year. That was an increase of 3.66% from the previous record total of 699,487 in 2016. XNA”s first full year of traffic was 1999, and the airport posted eight consecutive years of enplanements gains before seeing a decline in 2008. There was also a decline from 2010 to 2011 before the current streak of gains for six consecutive years.
January enplanements at Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport in Little Rock totaled 68,585, a dip of 1.57% from January 2017.
January enplanements at Fort Smith Regional Airport totaled 6,216, down 2.7% from 6,391 in January 2017.
ARKANSAS RIVER TRAFFIC UP 2%
According to information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, traffic through the first month of 2018 on the Arkansas River (McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System) totaled 890,771 tons. That’s up 2% compared to the January period of 2017, and is the highest January total since 2015, when activity level on the river totaled 895,554 tons.
Inbound tonnage on the Arkansas River in January totaled 287,700 tons, down 19% compared to the same month last year. Outbound tonnage was up 13% to 428,017 tons. Internal tonnage (tons shipped between ports on the river) totaled 175,054 tons, a 24% increase from January 2017
Sand/gravel/rock shipments in January totaled 226,854 tons, up 40% from January 2017. Shipments of chemical fertilizer totaled 199,631 tons, off by 34% from the previous year. Soybeans were also big movers, with 170,800 tons, up 27%.
ATA: JANUARY TONNAGE UP 2%
The American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage rose 2% in January, following a 0.3% decrease in December.
Compared with January 2017, the index jumped 8.8%, which was above December’s 7.5% year-over-year gain. For all of 2017, the index increased 3.8% over 2016.
The Cass Freight Shipments and Expenditures Indexes extend their run of positive year-over-year comparisons.
January shipments came in at 12.5% higher compared to the same month of 2017. Freight expenditures, or the total amount spent on freight, rose 14.2% over the year-ago period of January 2017. According to Donald Broughton, a chief market strategist and senior transportation analyst with Avondale Partners, who provides economic analysis for the Cass Freight Index, shipments first turned positive 16 months ago, while expenditures turned positive 13 months ago.
U.S. RAIL TRAFFIC DROPS
Total U.S. railroad traffic in January was 1.21 million carloads, down 3.4% from January 2017, according to the Association of American Carloads (AAR). Intermodal units (Containers and trailers) in January totaled 1.31 million, up 3.5% from the same month last year. Combined there were 2.52 million U.S. carload and intermodal originations in January, up 0.1% from January 2017.
Click here for a PDF of the February 2018 Arkansas Transportation Report.