Liset Marquez, Staff Writer
Created: 08/14/2012 11:09:44 AM PDT

ONTARIO – Passenger traffic numbers may be down at L.A./Ontario International Airport, but there is a bright spot – air cargo traffic.

For most of this year, air cargo at ONT has been up by about 15 percent.

For example, the amount of air cargo tonnage through Ontario’s airport in May was up 29.47 percent as compared to the same month in 2011.

“Cargo, in general, peaks a little bit in the summer because, believe it or not, people are preparing for the holidays,” said Mary Sullivan, the president of Sullivan Consulting Services.

“They usually start planning for the holidays in July and August.”

But that’s not the only contributing factor for the spike this year at ONT, Sullivan said.

The airport could be poised for more growth as long as the industrial sector continues to grow.

The number of industrial warehouse vacancies has fallen in the past year.

Many of those spaces are being occupied by major retailers, she said.

Online retailers prefer to deliver to the Inland Empire region through Ontario rather than shipping to Orange County or to Los Angeles International Airport because it gets to the customer more quickly, Sullivan said.

Some of those deliveries may be coming by way of ONT, she said.

“To start seeing an increase of cargo, in general, is not atypical. In general, cargo for Ontario could be affected in a positive way because of an improving industrial scene,” Sullivan said.

“The Inland Empire has their fair share of Target and Wal-Mart warehouses, and some of that product might be brought in through the ports and air. In the Inland Empire, it’s online shopping that everyone is watching.”

One of those cargo operators is UPS, which operates its western region hub at ONT. The cargo carrier accounts for a majority of the airport’s air cargo and operates about 38 flights a day at ONT.

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