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Top 25 Airports grow in 2018 despite global trade tensions

In 2018, the overall amount of cargo handled by the world’s top 25 airports increased by 1.7%, to reach almost 58 million tonnes of cargo. Growth slowed after 2017’s record high growth rate of 7.7%, likely due in part to the ongoing global trade tensions between the United States and some of its closest trade partners and market uncertainty related to Brexit. Despite the decline in overall market growth there still was substantial growth in individual regions thanks to rising demand for pharmaceuticals and perishable goods, as well as continued growth in e-commerce markets. 

Most airports in the Top 25 list reported at least some growth, but the largest region represented on Cargo Airport News’ Top 25 list was Asia-Pacific, with nine airports that handled a total of more than 24.03 million tonnes of cargo. The next largest was North America, where eight airports combined to handle 19.12 tonnes, followed by five European airports processing a total of 8.99 million tonnes of cargo. Meanwhile, 5.80 million tonnes of cargo moved through the three airports in the Middle East that made the Top 25 airports list.  

Despite market weakness, some airports demonstrated significant growth, including Doha (DOH), Frankfurt (FRA), Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) and Leipzig (LEJ), at 8.8%, 5%, 6.1% and 7.3%, respectively. 

Shifts in cargo volumes resulted, too, in the reshuffling of airport rankings from the year prior. Taiwan Taoyuan (TPE), Frankfurt (FRA) and Doha (DOH) jumped up in the rankings to No. 10, No. 11 and No. 12, respectively, bumping from Narita (NRT) down to No. 14. Cargo volumes at TPE rose 2.3%, while FRA saw 5% growth and Doha an increase of 8.8% in volumes. If Dubai’s dual-airport model operated between Dubai International (DXB) and Dubai World Central (DWC) is considered, the two airports combined processed 3.62 million tonnes of cargo, which would place the city in fourth place, just below Shanghai Pudong (PVG). 

Singapore Changi (SIN), Paris (CDG) moved down in the rankings by one and three spots, respectably to No. 14 and No. 15. Conversely, Leipzig (LEJ), Indianapolis (IND) and Dubai World Central (DWC) moved up in the rankings one, three and three spots, respectively. 

Data for these rankings was compiled by Cargo Airport News from airport data and direct communications with airport representatives. Data for Doha (DOH), Paris (CDG) and Beijing (PEK) was sourced from ACI, as noted with a single asterisk. Additionally, Tokyo Haneda (HND), Shenzhen Baoan (SZX) and Istanbul Atatürk (IST), which ranked No. 22, No. 23 and No. 26, respectively, last year, were not included on this year’s list as the airports did not provide data regarding throughput volumes for 2018, as noted with a double asterisk. 

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