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Roy Liljebeck (206) 281-1003
SEATTLE -- February 2, 1998
Airborne Freight Corporation (NYSE: ABF), which operates under the trade name Airborne Express, today reported record fourth quarter and year-end 1997 results. For year-end 1997, net earnings available to common shareholders were $120,072,000, a three-and-a-half fold increase over the 1996 results of $27,174,000. On a diluted basis, the per share results for 1997 were $4.89 versus $1.28 in 1996.

Fourth quarter 1997 net earnings available to common shareholders were $30,792,000, versus $10,665,000 in the same period of 1996. The quarterly per share results in 1997 were $1.21 on a diluted basis, compared to $.48 in 1996.

Total revenues for 1997 grew 17.0 percent to $2,912,409,000, compared to 1996 year-end revenues of $2,484,306,000. Domestic revenues for 1997 increased 19.0 percent from $2,108,670,000 in 1996 to $2,514,737,000. International revenues for 1997 increased 6.0 percent from $375,636,000 in 1996 to $397,672,000 in 1997.

Fourth quarter domestic revenues for 1997 reached $653,078,000, up 17.5 percent over 1996 domestic revenues of $556,454,000. International revenues for fourth quarter 1997 increased 7.0 percent to $102,427,000 as compared to 1996 figures of $95,518,000.

Year-end shipments for 1997 totaled 302,731,000, up 17.0 percent over 1996. Domestic shipments grew 17.0 percent in 1997 to 297,032,000 compared to 254,234,000 for 1996. International shipments experienced a 13.0 percent increase with 1997 figures reaching 5,699,000 versus year-end 1996 shipments of 5,036,000.

Domestic shipments increased 18.0 percent in the fourth quarter of 1997 to 77,326,000 from 65,539,000 for the same period in 1996. International shipments climbed to 1,540,000 during the 1997 fourth quarter, an increase of 18.0 percent over 1996 fourth quarter shipments of 1,302,000.

"The positive trends that made 1997 the most financially successful year the Company has ever experienced continued in the fourth quarter," said Roy Liljebeck, Airborne’s Chief Financial Officer. "Domestic yields, as measured by revenue per shipment, were very stable at $8.43 in the fourth quarter of 1997 versus $8.39 in last year’s fourth quarter. In addition, productivity improved 9.8 percent in the fourth quarter, which along with a continuing focus on costs, resulted in a 5.0 percent improvement in the Company’s operating cost per shipment," continued Liljebeck.

"During 1997, various events occurred in the first three quarters that enhanced operating results. In the first quarter, the Federal Aviation Excise Tax was not in effect from January 1 through March 7, 1997, and we commenced a fuel surcharge in mid February that was in effect until July 1, 1997. Last, in the third quarter, the strike at United Parcel Service in August added significantly to our business. We estimate that the cumulative effect of these items added $.95 to $1.00 per share on a diluted basis. However, even without the benefit of those items, the Company would have experienced a record year," concluded Liljebeck.

For more than 50 years, Airborne Express has served shipping needs of business customers around the world. Today, Airborne offers total distribution solutions by providing time-sensitive delivery of documents, letters, small packages, and freight to virtually every U.S. ZIP code and more than 200 countries. Customers can select from a variety of services including same-day, next-morning, next-afternoon or second-day delivery, ocean service, and logistics management.


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