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Cargo shipments decline at Columbus airport

COLUMBUS — Cargo shipments are down nearly 11 percent for the first seven months of the year at Rickenbacker Airport, a trend that industry observers attribute to a wider use of trucking and ocean shipping by freight shippers and a decline in apparel shipments by local retailers like Limited Brands and Abercrombie & Fitch Co.

The largest decline at the former Air Force base came from small charter shippers, such as Evergreen International Aviation and Atlas Air. Rickenbacker’s larger shippers, such as United Parcel Service and Federal Express, are showing some modest gains in shipments, according to Columbus Regional Airport Authority figures.

As the economy has slowed, consumer spending on apparel and footwear have also declined, said Brian Clancy, managing director of Merge Global, an Arlington, Va., consulting firm.

Other small chartered shippers such as Evergreen International Aviation and Kalitta Air have spent several years building a profitable business shipping military supplies from Columbus to the Middle East, Clancy said. These flights have declined as the needs for customers connected to the war in Iraq have changed, he said.

The slip in numbers comes as companies are cutting costs by shipping more cargo through other means.

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