The World’s Top 50 Cargo Airports

15.7.2008   (Air Cargo World)


Table showing the top 50 airports (2007)worldwide:

see table

The top 10 are:


Hong Kong




Paris Charles de Gaulle





(Heathrow is number 18)


Table showing the   European top 40 airports (2007) for cargo:

See table

The top 20 are:

Paris Charles de Gaulle      












East Midlands








The rapid growth in cargo traffic at airports in Asia and the Middle East may
be slowing down, but the expansion remains the dominant feature on a world cargo
trading map that is tilting decidedly toward the regions.

The shifting global landscape comes as the cargo map in the United States is
showing the impact of big changes in both the international arena and domestic
shipping, leaving many second-tier airports facing declining freight numbers in
the wake of an economic slowdown and capacity cutbacks by belly carriers.

The latest Air Cargo World list of the world’s largest cargo airports, compiled
from numbers from Airports Council International and the airports, shows Memphis International, home to FedEx, still at No. 1
in the world.

But Hong Kong International remains No. 1 for international air transport, and
Hong Kong is edging closer to Memphis. Hong Kong’s growth outpaced Memphis again
last year and it was even ahead of the FedEx hub again in the first few months
of 2008, putting Hong Kong in reach of surpassing the world’s longtime top cargo

Hong Kong’s expansion comes even as government and carrier attention increasingly
flows toward Hong Kong’s closest competitors, the airports of Mainland China.

In Southern China, a short drive from Hong Kong, Baiyun Guangzho grew 6.4 percent
last year and nearby Shenzhen was up 10.1 percent, but both will see still greater
growth soon enough. FedEx’s hub at Guangzho has been under construction and UPS
announced this spring that it will move its intra-Asia hub to Shenzhen.

At No. 5 overall, Shanghai Pudong remains the top growth market by cargo volume,
with a 15.5 percent growth, reflecting the continued potential from the world’s
most populated country.

Seoul Incheon remained No. 4, despite a slowdown from its primary carrier, Korean
Air, as well as the threat posed by Chinese airports as alternative gateways for
Northeast Asia. China figures strategically in Incheon’s fortunes. Last year,
transshipment traffic for the first time surpassed origin/destination cargo, and
China accounted for a large portion of that cargo.

Anchorage International, a transit stop for East-West traffic and a maintenance
center for Northwest Airlines, remains at the No. 3 spot and all signs point to
further growth in cargo volume at this Alaska gateway.

At No. 38, Liege, the main hub for TNT, and transit point for Atlas Air, leads
year-over-year growth among the Top 50 cargo airports, with 20.6 percent increase
in cargo volume, followed by Milan Malpensa Airport (16 percent) and Beijing Capital
Airport (15.8 percent).

Frankfurt came in at No. 7,despite only posting a 1.9 percent growth in tonnage
last year. Lufthansa and DHL Express are moving cargo to Leipzig and elsewhere
and Frankfurt must contend with onerous nighttime flight restrictions that allow
for only 17 flights between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The bright spot for airport expansion remains the Middle East and India. At No.
13, Dubai, which has become a viable gateway for cargo to Europe and Asia and
transit point for cargo from Africa, grew 11 percent in cargo volume last year.
Although not yet in the Top 50, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah continue to inch up the
list with 22.7 percent and 16.2 percent traffic growth in 2007, a sign that Dubai
is not the only cargo center of note in the Middle East.

Freight tonnage for Mumbai and New Delhi continue to increase with 12.1 percent
and 8.7 percent increases in 2007, despite an infrastructure that significantly
limits long-term growth.

A disturbing trend is the continued decline in cargo volume at many U.S. gateways.
Cargo volume at New York’s John F. Kennedy and Newark airports declined last year
2.8 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. Cargo volume also declined at Chicago
O’Hare, Oakland and Dallas/Ft Worth.

Even more alarming is the precipitous drop in freight tonnage at the mid-size
and small markets, indicating further the deterioration of the domestic air cargo
market. The slides at several airports stretched into double digits and many are
facing lighter traffic this year and in the future as major U.S. passenger carriers
slash flights and aircraft guage.

The consolidation of DHL Express traffic onto the UPS network also will consolidate
that volume at the airports served by UPS.

Cargo volume plummeted 25.7 percent at San Diego, while Charlotte-Douglas saw
a 16.3 percent drop. Columbus Rickenbacker and Tampa dropped 12.1 percent and
10.6 percent, respectively, while San Jose, Calif., cargo volume was off 9.5 percent.
Indiana’s Ft. Wayne Airport saw a 44.6 percent drop in cargo volume, largely because
of the demise of Kitty Hawk Air Cargo.

Even growth at the front running Middle East and Asia airports, whose growth
in the past led the way, likely will continue to taper off until the economy improves
and fuel costs become manageable. For now, any growth in freight tonnage is good

Table showing the top 25 Asian airports at     table.

See also Air Cargo World’s   2008 World Airports Directory.