Top 50 Cargo Airports: Which air hubs rose or fell?

  • Staff Reports
  • October 26, 2017
  • Airports

Generally, the list of the Top 50 largest cargo airports didn’t change drastically, year-over-year, in 2016. Most of the largest hubs stayed in roughly the same ranking, with a few swapping one or two positions up or down. The airfreight market has become highly concentrated, ACI said, with the Top 50 air cargo hubs handling 64.3 percent of total air cargo volumes. For domestic cargo, the Top 50 controlled about two-thirds of the airfreight handled worldwide and more than three-quarters of all international air cargo.

However, there were also some airports that stood out on this year’s list, which further illuminated the markets that are driving airfreight growth across the globe. Qatar’s Hamad International (DOH) in Doha enjoyed the greatest growth in total cargo, with 1.76 million tonnes – a rise of 20.8 percent over 2015, moving it from No. 20 to No. 19. Much of that growth came, ironically, from the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, which prompted a massive influx of goods via Qatar Airways to keep the economy going (see p. 8 for more on Qatar’s strategy). Hanoi’s Noi Bai International (HAN, No. 45) was another major climber, with an 18.2 percent surge to 566,000 tonnes in 2016 – much of it coming from e-commerce trade between Vietnam’s burgeoning factories and Chinese consumers.

The top 10 busiest airports handled more than a quarter of the world’s total cargo, ACI found. Traffic at Hong Kong (HKG) — the world’s busiest airfreight hub — grew 3.5 percent in 2016, equivalent to an additional 155,000 tonnes. In absolute terms, this growth was second only to the fast-growing Shanghai Pudong (PVG, No. 3), which grew at 5 percent. Incheon (ICN, No. 4) and Tokyo-Narita (NRT, No. 8) grew 4.6 percent and 2 percent, respectively, for the year.

Perennial high-performer Ted Stevens Anchorage International (ANC) was the only facility in the top 10 to report a year-over-year loss in total cargo – a 3.4 percent dip to 2.54 million tonnes, dropping it from No. 4 to No. 6. “In 2015, there was the port strike in California, which increased our numbers,” explained Trudy Wassel, division operations manager for the airport manager’s office at ANC. “Then, when the strike was over and things went back to normal, our numbers declined.” 

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