Air cargo throughput via John F. Kennedy and Newark airports rose 1.8 per cent last year, making New York-New Jersey the top air cargo centre in the United States. Robert Boyle, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said: 'The US$140 billion air cargo industry is an excellent example of how the port authority serves as an economic engine and generates quality jobs that pay good wages.' The authority operates Newark, Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. Mr Boyle said the industry provided nearly 85,000 jobs and $9 billion in economic activity, including $3 billion annually in wages in New York and New Jersey. The port authority was helping the industry grow by aggressively developing new markets, he said, adding Kennedy Airport boosted its international air cargo by nearly 3 per cent through finding new markets and bringing in new air carriers. Cathay Pacific Airways, for example, inaugurated a non-stop passenger service and air cargo freighter service between Kennedy airport and Hong Kong last year. 'Asia is one of the markets that we look to for continued growth for years to come,' Mr Boyle said. About 23 per cent of all air cargo imports from Asia passed through the region, as did 25 per cent of all exports, he said. Even though the strong dollar overseas held down export growth, Kennedy airport handled 1.7 million tonnes - or 1.8 per cent more than the previous year. Newark Airport also reported a 1.8 per cent increase over 1995, handling about 980,000 tonnes of air cargo last year. LaGuardia handled about 28,000 tonnes. A total of $140 billion worth of cargo passed through the three airports last year. Apparel was the top commodity imported through the region's airports in 1996, at 103,934 tonnes. Computers and miscellaneous machinery were the top exports at 86,738 tonnes. The top three air cargo carries at Kennedy airport in 1996 were American Airlines with about 151,000 tonnes, Lufthansa German Airlines with about 105,000 tonnes, and Korean Air with about 80,000 tonnes. The top three carriers at Newark were Federal Express which, with about 513,000 tonnes, handled more than 50 per cent of all air cargo at the airport; United Parcel Service with about 154,000 tonnes, and Continental Airlines with about 71,000 tonnes. Mr Boyle said after extensive discussions with the port authority, the US Postal Service consolidated its overseas mail operations and selected Kennedy airport to handle all of the northeast's international mail. That resulted in a 12 per cent increase in the volume of international mail that passed through Kennedy Airport in 1996, he said. Together, the three airports handled 4 per cent more mail in 1996, or about 286,000 tonnes. The port authority also is working with private sector tenants to guarantee air cargo growth.