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AUSTIN-Air cargo traffic in and out of Austin Bergstrom International Airport dropped 42% in September from September 2000. Through September, air cargo is down 6% from the comparable period of 2000. Much of the decrease was attributed to the shut down following the Sept. 11 attacks, but the high-tech slowdown also took some blame.

Here are the figures: September air cargo was 21.3 million pounds, down from a record of 36.8 million pounds and a 49% increase over September 1999. Air cargo was 247.3 million pounds from January through September, off from 258 million in pounds for the first nine months of 1999.

Even before September, the high-tech slowdown was reflected in Austin’s air cargo figures, which, until this year, had marched steadily upward in the previous few years. “We’d been seeing a steady decline anyway because of the high-tech market itself,” says Jackie Mayo of the aviation department.

Ray Brimble, whose Lynxs Inc. runs some of Austin’s air cargo facilities and other US airports, said the Austin figures are within the range of figures he’s seen around the country. “It’s pretty ugly out here right now,” he tells GlobeSt.com, speaking from the Sacramento International Airport.

“Before 9-11 it was down nationally in the neighborhood of about 10%,” he says. “And the immediate impact has been between 40 and 50% post-9-11. We’re seeing indications it is starting to come back now. It’s not coming all the way back.”

Brimble says the shutdown was particularly felt in Austin, where many manufacturers rely on just-in-time delivery instead of warehousing parts. “The whole supply chain was shut down, particularly air cargo for four or five days,” he says. “It’s going to be interesting to see if people start warehousing critical stuff more in the aftermath. I can tell you, without naming names, that I got a few calls from panicked manufacturers in Austin, would literally call me on the hour asking if the airport was open.”

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