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Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the primary international cargo airport serving Southern California – the world’s 16th largest economy. LAX ranks 14th in the world and fifth in the United States in air cargo tonnage processed. In 2012, LAX processed more than 1.96 million tons of cargo valued at nearly $87 billion.

China remains Los Angeles’ largest trading partner with two-way trade in 2012 valued at $21.3 billion, followed by Japan at $8.2 billion, Hong Kong at $3 billion, Thailand at $2.3 billion and South Korea at $2.3 billion.

LAX is the sixth busiest commercial passenger airport in the world and third busiest in the U.S., offering 680 daily flights to 96 domestic cities and 930 weekly nonstop flights to 59 cities in 30 countries on 63 commercial air carriers. In 2012, LAX served almost 63.7 million passengers and handled 605,480 aircraft operations (takeoffs and landings).

LAX has 1,000 flights daily that transport cargo and link Los Angeles with the world. More than half of the air cargo arrives and departs in the holds of passenger aircraft, allowing airlines serving LAX to offer some of the lowest airfares available to travelers.

Diverse Cargo
The products processed through LAX are as varied as the number of airlines and nations served. Shippers will find the most broadly based selection of airlines of any U.S. airport. Every major international air carrier serving the Asia-Pacific Region calls at Los Angeles, while North American, European and Latin American air carriers also fully serve LAX.

Japan is LAX's largest partner with export trade in 2012 valued at $$4.7 billion, followed by China at $4.1 billion, Hong Kong at $3.1 billion, South Korea at $2.3 billion, and Australia at $2 billion. The top export commodities through LAX were civilian aircraft, engines, and parts; unmounted diamonds; computer chips; cellular, landline phones, and equipment; and medical instruments.

China is LAX's largest partner with import trade in 2012 valued at $17.2 billion, followed by Japan at $3.4 billion, Thailand at $2.3 billion; Taiwan at $2.1 billion; and India at $2 billion. The top import commodities through LAX were computers; cellular, landline phones, and equipment; unmounted diamonds; computer chips, and imports of returned exports.

Extensive Airfield Cargo Network
The ever-growing number of air carriers and their worldwide service area have created an extensive air-cargo-handling network at LAX. The airport has more than 2.1 million square feet of space on 194 acres developed for cargo. LAX's handling facilities include the 98-acre Century Cargo Complex, the 57.4-acre Imperial Complex, the Imperial Cargo Center, and a number of cargo facilities on the south side of the airport. An additional four million square feet of space are developed for cargo use in the immediate vicinity of LAX.

Modern facilities -- convenient for shippers, forwarders and airlines alike -- are available in the Imperial Cargo Complex, the site of extensive development by domestic and international carriers. Major tenants include Lufthansa, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Federal Express, China Airlines, Delta, Air Canada and Cargo Services Center (a provider to several air carriers). A U.S. Customs & Border Protection port office located adjacent to LAX provides cargo processing services to on-airport businesses.

Improvements and enhancements by tenants and Los Angeles World Airports have been continually made at the Century Cargo Complex, LAX’s first air-cargo area. American, United, Virgin Atlantic, and Asiana house their freight operations at the Century Boulevard location. Alaska Airlines, British Airways, Southwest Airlines and US Airways are located there as well.

On airport property, some airlines have proprietary facilities, including: United Airlines with 180,000 square feet; Virgin Atlantic Airways and Asiana Airlines sharing a 122,000-square-foot cargo building; Qantas Airlines with 54,000 square feet; and Singapore Airlines with 65,000 square feet.

Mercury Air Cargo opened its first facility in March 1998, and in April 2009 opened a 12,700-square-foot refrigeration facility. In 2011, Mercury opened a 16,000-square-foot refrigeration facility and perishable center, the largest of its kind among all U.S. West Coast airports.

Southern California -- The Nation's Top International Trade Center
Los Angeles International Airport is a key transportation center for one of the world’s most dynamic economies. The metropolitan Los Angeles region’s international trade is valued at more than $387 billion, with LAX alone responsible for nearly $87 billion in exports and imports. Greater Los Angeles accounts for nearly half of the economy of California and a majority of the state’s multi-billion dollars in international trade.

Many of the largest industrial companies headquartered in the state are located in the greater Los Angeles area, which is a leading high-technology center for the nation in the entertainment, electronics, biomedical, computer, and aerospace industries.

The convenience and efficiency of LAX as a major distribution center for cargo is supported by the ready availability of vital allied services, especially for Pacific Rim traders:

  • LAX is a member of the Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders Association, Inc. ( More than 800 freight forwarders and 360 customs house brokers ( are located in the Los Angeles area to help expedite air cargo.
  • U.S. banks with international operations have offices in Los Angeles, as do foreign banking institutions
  • Excellent surface connections are available for secondary shipment of goods. Two seaports serve Los Angeles and Southern California. Railroads provide transportation to the rest of the U.S., Canada and Mexico
  • Foreign consulates and trade offices representing more than 70 nations, as well as more than 55 bi-national chambers of commerce and associations, assist in the high volume of trade.
  • Consular offices from 76 nations, trading offices from 33 countries and 35 foreign Chambers of Commerce assist the high volume of trade.
Year  Air Mail Tons  Air Freight Tons  Total Air Cargo