California Department of Transportation

Air Cargo


Vital to California’s economy, air cargo encompasses both goods transported on aircraft exclusively carrying freight and in bellies of passenger planes.  In 2010, over 3.6 million tons of air cargo having a total trade value of $198.9 billion was handled within, from, and to California.  The state’s top four cargo airports (Los Angeles, Ontario, San Francisco, and Oakland) account for approximately 89 percent of California’s annual tonnage transported.  Uncharacteristic of traditional truck, sea, and rail freight, commodities shipped by air tend to be light-weight, of high-value, low-volume, time-sensitive, and travelling great distances.  High-tech industry items, such as electronics and machinery, in addition to agricultural perishables and components that demand just-in-time delivery are common air cargo commodities. 



Debbie Nozuka
Air Cargo Liasion

This California Airport Fact Sheets link directs you to information about the top 12 cargo-carrying airports.

Air Cargo Studies

The California Air Cargo Groundside Needs Study assesses how the state is positioned to address infrastructure and access issues pertaining to future air cargo growth.  The study, developed by SystemMetrics Group in July 2013, provides a unique perspective regarding air cargo, identifies emergent trends, and profiles each of the state’s top 12 cargo airports including handling capacity and needs.


The Air Cargo Mode Choice and Demand Study, completed by TranSystems in 2010, provides a comprehensive picture of air cargo including historic trends, dynamics of air cargo, industry landside infrastructure capacities, and insight into future air cargo demand.

BART Air Cargo Transport Research

Caltrans has partnered with University of California, Berkeley’s Partners in Advanced Transit and Highways (PATH) program to research the feasibility of transporting goods from Bay Area airports to intermodal facilities via the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.  The Investigating the Possibility link provides background information on this effort. 


Caltrans Division of Aeronautics

Charged with fostering and promoting the development of a safe, efficient, dependable, and environmentally compatible air transportation system, the Division of Aeronautics compiles air cargo statistics and other pertinent aviation information primarily with a general aviation focus.

Other Air Cargo Studies