Many returning winners at ACE Awards

Ace_Awards_Trophy_1SHANGHAI – There were many familiar faces among the winners on March 10 during the Air Cargo Excellence (ACE) Awards ceremony, held in conjunction with IATA’s World Cargo Symposium here. But there were also some notable newcomers that climbed the ranks in this celebration of the top airlines and airports, as chosen by Air Cargo World readers.

Continuing its long streak of Diamond wins in the 1 million-or-more-tonnes category, Emirates has continued to expand its freighter operations along with its belly-hold capacity. The carrier provides belly hold cargo services to more than 140 destinations in addition to 50 scheduled freighter services. In the 400,000-to-999,999-tonne category, Japan Airlines was also a repeat victor, as was Southwest Airlines, for carriers that handled up to 399,999 tons of cargo in 2014.

On the airport side, Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), the world’s busiest cargo airport for the last four years, was the Asian Diamond winner in the 1 million-tonnes-or-more category. HKIA, which handled 4.38 million tonnes of cargo in 2014, is a major gateway connecting Hong Kong, mainland China and the rest of the world, including about 180 destinations worldwide.

Kansai International Airport (KIX), near Osaka, Japan, was tops in the 400,000-to-999,999 tonnes category, and is also a repeat Diamond Award winner. The relatively new airport, built in 1994, has 15 freighter slots and is home to the FedEx Express North Pacific regional hub. The airport has 138 cargo flights a week, with extensive connections to China and other parts of Asia.

In Europe, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport (AMS) once again won the Diamond Award for handling 1 million tonnes, or more, of cargo in 2014. Cologne-Bonn (CGN) ruled supreme in the 400,000-to-999,999-tonnes-handled category. Like Schiphol, it is a repeat winner from last year.

Europe’s up-to-399,999-tonnes-handled category was one of the most competitive fields in the ACE awards, with eight of the nine finalists earning above-average certificates. Perennial favorite Zurich Airport (ZRH), however, took the prize, with a dense road network connecting it to economic centers not only in Switzerland, but also in southern Germany, France, Italy and Austria.

First-time winner San Luis Muñoz Maŕin International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was the clear victor in Latin America, with 138 points – the highest overall score in the entire ACE survey. Top exports include perishable food, agricultural products, flowers, manufactured goods and pharmaceuticals. This year, SJU is working on a major revamp to modernize the cargo area, including auxiliary installations like ramps and illumination.

It’s no surprise that Dubai International (DXB) was the overall facility winner in the Middle East/India/Africa category, taking the title from Doha, Qatar, since the combined freight handled by it and neighboring Dubai World Central (DWC) jumped 18.1 percent in 2014. The last major expansion at DXB will be completed this year in the form of Concourse D, which will increase passenger capacity from 75 million to 90 million per annum.

In the Americas, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) was number one yet again for cargo handled in the 1 million-or-more-tonne category. Anchorage, (Alaska) is a nine-and-a-half-hour flight from 90 percent of the industrialized world.

The North American airport that took home the Diamond award for handling 400,000 to 999,000 tonnes was LA/Ontario International Airport (ONT), which was in third place in this category last year, and benefits from UPS and FedEx Express accounting for 90 percent of its business. Another airport that handles mostly freight from FedEx and UPS was Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), which was the winner for the North American airport handling up to 399,999 tonnes of freight.

The ACE Awards, now in their 10th year, are determined by surveys that are distributed to Air Cargo World subscribers throughout the world. Carriers are voted on by forwarders, cargo agents and third-party logistics providers. Subscribers identified as those working for an airline voted on the airports. Airlines are rated on customer service, performance, value and information technology. Airports are rated on performance, value, facilities and regulatory operations.

NOTE: A complete list of survey results will be published in the April 2015 issue of Air Cargo World and on aircargoworld.com. Linda Ball contributed to this story. See a listing of the winners here

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