We at Air Cargo World and Cargo Facts are proud of the nearly comprehensive portrait that this Freight 50 listing paints for the air cargo carrier business. But we also know enough to realize that a perfect list is nearly impossible to compile. While it’s a trustworthy estimate, it’s still just an educated guess. We use multiple sources, including IATA, U.S. Department of Transportation and the self-reporting from individual carriers, but there is still no single database that is 100 percent accurate, because so many carriers have different ways of reporting their cargo figures. IATA gathers a vast amount of data, but many carriers never report their tonnages to IATA. DHL Express is a case unto itself every year. The German integrator carries freight on owned-and-operated planes, on aircraft operated by joint-venture partner carriers and in purchased or leased space on non-affiliated carriers. For this year’s Freight 50, we have included freight carried by DHL Air, DHL International, ABX Air, AeroLogic, Air Hong Kong, Polar Air Cargo, Southern Air and EAT Leipzig, and provided the final FTK sum under the catch-all “DHL Express” name (see charts, below). Even with these methods, we assume total FTKs carried by DHL are significantly under-reported.
[ADDENDUM: However, Michael Steen, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Atlas Air, objected to our inclusion of freight carried by Atlas subsidiaries Polar Air Cargo and Southern Air totals under or “DHL Express” category, as we have done for the last several years. He contends that Atlas provides “significantly more capacity to DHL than Polar and Southern combined.” He says Polar and Southern should be reported as part of the Atlas Air Group. “Looking at how [Air Cargo World reports] other airlines operation, it is based on how many FTK’s they operate under their respective AOC, not who the customer is.” See Atlas’ listing below for an alternate accounting of the carrier’s FTK totals.]
3 [ADDENDUM: Based on figures supplied directly from Atlas Air, if we had included all of the FTKs from Atlas subsidiary carriers Polar Air Cargo and Southern Air, Atlas’ total FTKs for 2017 would be 11.142 billion, which was a 4 percent increase over 2016, which totaled 10.705 billion FTKs. Had we used this accounting method, Atlas would have ranked No. 7, between Qatar Airways and Lufthansa. Also, our catch-all DHL Express totals would have been reduced by nearly 6 billion FTKs, which place them at No. 19 on the list.]
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