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Roy C. Liljebeck (206) 281-1003
 
AIRBORNE FREIGHT CORPORATION REPORTS FIRST QUARTER 1997 RESULTS
 
SEATTLE -- April 21, 1997
Airborne Freight Corporation (NYSE: ABF), which operates under the trade name Airborne Express, today reported first quarter earnings significantly ahead of expectations and recent quarterly results. Net earnings were $14,374,000, or $.67 per share, $.62 per share on a fully diluted basis, for the period ending March 31. This compares to net earnings of $1,246,000, or $.06 per share for the same period last year. First quarter 1996 results were unusually low due to the severe winter weather that occurred in 1996.

Total revenues for first quarter were $655,522,000, an increase of 9.5 percent over 1996 first quarter revenues of $597,909,000. Domestic revenues were up 11 percent at $562,111,000, compared to last yearís figure of $506,121,000. International revenues for this period increased 2 percent and were $93,411,000 compared to $91,788,000.

The total number of shipments for the first quarter increased 8.5 percent to 68,983,000. Domestic shipments were 67,686,000, up 8.5 percent and international shipments were 1,297,000, an increase of 8 percent over 1996 results. The first quarter of 1997 includes one less day than the same period in 1996. On a per day basis, domestic revenues and shipments increased 13 percent and 10 percent respectively.

"Operating results in the first quarter were stronger than they have been for some time," said Airborneís Chief Financial Officer Roy Liljebeck. "The operating margin of 4.9 percent resulted from a number of positive factors, including steady growth in domestic shipments, and more importantly, a growth rate in domestic revenue that exceeded the growth rate in shipments. The growth in domestic business continues to be strongest in the higher-yielding overnight business. In addition, while the growth in international revenues is modest, the operating margins on international business continue to improve at a much faster rate than revenue," said Liljebeck.

"On the cost side, the price of aviation fuel continued to be high, exceeding the price experienced in the first quarter of 1996 by 11.8 cents per gallon. Fortunately, the implementation of a 2 percent fuel surcharge on February 17, 1997, and the proceeds from fuel hedging in the quarter offset the increased cost. Furthermore, a moratorium on the aviation excise tax from January 1 through March 6 resulted in a $4.3 million benefit in the quarter," continued Liljebeck. "Also, productivity improved 7 percent during the quarter and the overall operating cost per shipment for the quarter improved 2 percent versus last yearís first quarter."

"As we begin the second quarter, domestic shipment and revenue growth rates remain strong. If there are no negative changes in the economy or competitive environment for the balance of the year, operating results should remain strong," concluded Liljebeck.

Celebrating 50 years of providing shipping and logistics solutions for business, Airborne Express continues to be a leader in the transportation industry. Airborne serves the air express, air freight, ocean freight and international mail needs of corporate customers across the U.S. and in more than 200 countries. Airborne offers same-day, next-day, next-afternoon and second-day delivery and central, regional, and international warehousing.

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