Top 40 Cargo Airports: More movements among the leaders

Still growing – Top 5 airports for growth

Among those airports contributing to volatility in airport cargo tonnage during 2018 are four of the five airports reporting the most substantial growth in tonnage during the year. There were no changes in rank for the five airports with the largest handles during 2018 – all major transshipment hub airports in North America and the Asia-Pacific regions – but the five fastest-growing airports represent bright spots for air cargo during the year and into the future. These include Belgium’s Liege Airport (LGG), Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG), Istanbul Ataturk Airport (ISL), Manila Airport (MNL) in the Philippines and Hamad International Airport (DOH).

With a volume increase of 21.58%, LGG had the fastest y-o-y growth among the top 40 airports for 2018. The airport has worked to position itself as a hub for both freighters generally and Chinese e-commerce logistics into Europe. During the first half of 2018, Cainiao, the logistics subsidiary of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, selected LGG as one of its key European hubs, and within two months of that announcement Russian airline group Volga-Dnepr Group signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with LGG to bolster its European presence through development of a regional cargo hub at LGG.

Growth at the airport has continued during 2019, with several new cargo connections from such carriers as Saudia Cargo and CAL Cargo Airlines, along with the launch of a new cargo startup, ACE Belgium Freighters. Its 2018 expansions pushed the airport up six spots from 2017, to No. 33 in the top 40 ranking. If LGG continues its success on the cargo operations side, it would not be surprising to see them continue to climb in the ranks and reach the 20s for 2019.

At No. 27, CVG recorded the second-fastest y-o-y growth in cargo volumes, with a 19.14% increase from 2017 levels. As with LGG, e-commerce airfreight supported growth at the airport, thanks to Amazon’s selection of CVG for its hub. DHL also operates at the airport as one of its three global super hubs, and CVG will almost certainly continue rapid growth over the next several years.

In May 2019, Amazon broke ground on the first phase of its new Air Cargo Hub at CVG, scheduled to open late in 2021. Development will continue through at least 2026 and eventually accommodate more than 100 aircraft at a time.

Amazon and DHL aren’t the only operators growing at the airport, however. “CVG is working with a third-party developer, AeroTerm, on a dedicated air cargo facility to become operational in November, which will provide efficient and cost-effective space with direct airfield access for other cargo carriers,” the airport told Air Cargo World, adding, “their anchor tenant will be FedEx.” A spokesperson for CVG added that an aircraft maintenance hangar is also currently in development and expected to begin operating early next year.

While peak season performance for 2019 is still to be determined, the airport added, “In 2018, we achieved new all-time records for cargo tonnage in both November and December, and we hope this peak season will be just as busy.”

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