Airborne back in the black

Express carrier Airborne Inc. said it returned to profitability this year after reporting net earnings of $14.8 million on revenues of $3.34 billion, compared to a loss of $19.5 million on revenues of $3.22 billion. For the fourth quarter, Airborne posted net income of $12.2 million on revenues of $897 million, compared to net income of $2.2 million on revenues of $805 million. Airborne said most

Express carrier Airborne Inc. said it returned to profitability this year after reporting net earnings of $14.8 million on revenues of $3.34 billion, compared to a loss of $19.5 million on revenues of $3.22 billion.

For the fourth quarter, Airborne posted net income of $12.2 million on revenues of $897 million, compared to net income of $2.2 million on revenues of $805 million.

Airborne said most of its losses is 2001 were September 11-related, because the nation's air traffic system was shut down for almost a week and air cargo volumes nose-dived for the remainder of 2001.

Chairman & CEO Carl Donaway noted, however, that the growing volume and profitability of its Ground Delivery Service (GDS) helped the company return to profitability in 2002.

"Although our GDS product generates lower yields than express shipments, they allow us to enhance productivity and leverage our infrastructure," Donaway said. "The growth in GDS throughout the year has been particularly important as express volumes have declined throughout the industry."

Donaway said Airborne's U.S. domestic shipment volume rose 14.9% in the fourth quarter of 2002, with GDS and its Internet-based @home service making up 24% of domestic shipments and 39% of domestic weight in the quarter.

However, higher corporate costs dragged down Airborne's profitability last year, said CFO Lanny Michael. Corporate costs in 2002, including pension, workers' compensation, employee healthcare and other insurance-related expenses, increased by $25 million from 2001, he said.

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