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Cargo Airports: A Hub of Air Freight Movement

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

March 4, 2024

10 min read

Cargo airports around the world have witnessed a surge in packages over the past two decades. The increasing demand for air freight may be attributed to the growth of the eCommerce industry. Most business owners, these days, are highly ambitious. They aim to spread their business across borders and that is where the role of cargo airports comes in. There are several of these airports worldwide but some of them are busier than others. 

In this article, we have covered 20 busiest cargo airports across the globe. Read on to find out!

Top International Cargo Airports

20 Busiest Cargo Airports in the World: The Bustling Hubs of Freight Movement

Some of the busiest cargo airports in the world are listed below:

  1. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/VHHH)

Located in Chek Lap Kok New Territory, the Hong Kong International Airport is known to be the busiest cargo airport in the world. It witnessed a total cargo of 4,199,196 tonnes in a year as per the figures released in April 2023. Even though there was a decrease in percentage by 16.4%, the airport maintained its position as the busiest in terms of freight movement.  

  1. Memphis International Airport (MEM/KMEM)

Located in Memphis Shelby Tennessee, United States, the airport saw a total cargo of 4,042,679 tonnes as per the April 2023 report. During this period, it witnessed a decrease of 9.8% in the cargo movement.  This was the second time in a row that it saw a dip in the total cargo percentage but remains one of the busiest cargo airports in the world.

  1. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC/ PANC)

The airport located in Anchorage, Alaska, United States, is among the busiest airports around the world with as much as 3,461,603 tonnes of cargo being transported from here as per the latest report. Just like other cargo airports, this one also saw a dip in the percentage of cargo. However, it managed to move up by one position, becoming the third busiest cargo airport.

  1. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG/ZSPD)

Shanghai Pudong International Airport located in China serves domestic as well as international flights. It is known for sending and receiving tonnes of cargo each year. It has a large team of security personnel deployed at the security check-in and other places in the airport. They ensure the safe and fair movement of the cargo. Shanghai Pudong International Airport held the third position among the busiest cargo airports around the world for over a decade. In 2022, it fell to the fourth position.

  1. Louisville International Airport (SDF/KSDF)

Renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport, it is located in Louisville Jefferson, Kentucky, United States. This airport has moved up by one position to become the fifth busiest cargo airport in 2022. It handled 3,067,234 tonnes of cargo in the mentioned year. It handles several UPS Airlines’ international cargo flights. In terms of cargo traffic, it is the second busiest airport in the United States.

  1. Incheon International Airport (ICN/RKSI)

The cargo airport, located in South Korea’s Seoul National Capital Area, sees several tonnes of cargo being received from different parts of the world. Likewise, a huge amount is sent from Jung, Incheon to various international locations. It is known to be one of the cleanest airports in the world. Also known for its stringent security checks, Incheon International Airport bagged the best airport security award in 2021.

  1. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE/ RCTP)

It was the seventh busiest as per Airport Council International’s 2022 preliminary figures. The airport, located in Dayuan, Taoyuan, is the busiest cargo airport in Taiwan and also the largest. Its huge area enables easy movement of the cargo. The Airports Council International ranked it the best airport in the Asia Pacific region because of its size. It is a hub for various airlines and is an important trans-shipment center. There are plans to expand this airport further.

  1. Miami International Airport (MIA/KMIA)

Spread across an area of 1,335 hectares, Miami International Airport is the main international airport in South Florida. It offers cargo flights to various cities in America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. It is the hub for various cargo airlines including Avianca Cargo, Northern Air Cargo, LATAM Cargo Chile, and Sky Lease Cargo. There are plans to expand the airport’s cargo capacity in the times to come.

  1. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX)

Located in Los Angeles, California, it is the hub for Polar Air Cargo. It saw 2,489,554 tonnes of cargo as per ACI’s 2022 preliminary figures as opposed to 2,691,830 tonnes in its 2021 report and 2,229, 476 tonnes in 2020. The airport is spread over an area of 3,500 acres. It has four parallel runways. It is among the top five airports in the United States in terms of cargo traffic and the busiest one in California. It encompasses 2 million square feet of cargo facilities.

  1. Narita International Airport (NRT/RJAA)

Japan’s Narita International Airport is yet another cargo airport that witnesses a huge amount of cargo movement daily. Being one of the two international airports in the Greater Tokyo Area, it saw as much as 2,399,298 tonnes of cargo as per the April 2023 report. It is the hub for Polar Air Cargo and Nippon Cargo Airlines among others. There are plans to build a new cargo facility in the airport.

  1. Hamad International Airport (DOH/OTHH)

Hamad International Airport began its operations on 1st December 2013. Its first consignment arrived from Europe by Qatar Airways Cargo. It is a hub for Qatar Airways Cargo which transports shipments to various parts of the world. Cargolux also operates from here. However, it only transports goods to Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Luxembourg. The Turkish Cargo flies to and fro from Hamad International Airport to Istanbul. The airport saw a total cargo of 2,620,095 tonnes according to the July 2022 report. It was a jump of 20.5% from the preceding year, because of which its rank raised by 1 position.

  1. Dubai International Airport (DXB/OMBD)

This airport in the United Arab Emirates was among the top 10 busiest cargo airports in the world until a few years back. Emirates SkyCargo provides air cargo services at this airport. It ships packages safely from Dubai to different parts of the world. Dubai International Airport reported the transport of 2,514,918 tonnes of cargo, according to ACI’s 2019 preliminary figures. The airport’s cargo terminal has the capacity to handle cargo amounting to 3 million tonnes annually.

  1. Charles de Gaulle (CDG/LFPG)

This airport located in Seine-et-Mame, France is another one that has seen a huge amount of freight regularly for years. A hub for Air France Cargo and FedEx Express, its total cargo amounted to 2,102,268 tonnes in 2019. Various other airlines including Cathay Cargo, China Cargo Airlines, ASL Airlines France, Central Airlines, CMA CGM Air Cargo, Geo-Sky, and Turkish Cargo also ship consignments from this airport.

  1. Frankfurt am Main International Airport (FRA/EDDF)

Germany’s Frankfurt am Main International Airport is popular among shipping companies. It loads and unloads cargo amounting to more than 2 lakh tonnes annually. Also known as the Rhein-Main-Flughafen, it is the busiest cargo airport in Europe. It has a huge logistics facility that ensures secure shipments.

  1. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN/WSSS)

A huge amount of cargo is transported to different parts of the world from Singapore’s Changi Airport daily. Skytrax has termed it as the “World’s Best Airport” numerous times. It handled 2.01 million tonnes of cargo in 2019 and continues to handle around as much amount of cargo annually. Electrical components form a major part of the total cargo handled at Changi Airport. This is because Singapore has a booming electronics sector.

  1. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK/ZBAA)

Located in Beijing’s Chaoyang-Shunyi, this international airport registered cargo amounting to 2, 074, 05 tonnes as per ACI’s 2018 report. In 2019, the figures dipped by 6% and the amount reached 1,957,779. However, even today it remains one of the busiest cargo airports in the world. Various cargo airlines operate from here to enable business owners as well as individuals to send their packages swiftly and easily to different locations. Air Koryo Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo, Asiana Cargo, China Airlines Cargo, EVA Air Cargo, Etihad Cargo, and Singapore Airlines Cargo are among some of them.

  1. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN/ZGGG) 

This is yet another cargo airport in China that is among the busiest ones in the world. China exports numerous kinds of goods to different parts of the world. This explains why its cargo airports are always bustling with packages. Tonnes of cargo are transported across the globe every year from the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. Many renowned cargo airlines operate from this airport. These include Air China Cargo, ANA Cargo, China Cargo, Asiana Cargo, and CMA CGM Air Cargo, etc.

  1. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD/KORD)

The United States has several airports that witness huge amounts of cargo. Chicago O’Hare International Airport is one of them. It saw cargo amounting to 1,758,119 tonnes in 2019. It dipped by 3.8% compared to its preceding year which closed at 1,807,091 tonnes.  

  1. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Located in Haarlemmermeer, North, this is yet another busy airport that receives and sends out tonnes of cargo every year. It is the hub for KLM Cargo. It is the fourth busiest cargo airport in Europe. To and fro movement of various cargo airlines is seen here. Some of these include Cargolux, Cathay Cargo, China Cargo Airlines, and Nippon Cargo Airlines. 

  1. London Heathrow International Airport

Located in Hayes, Hillingdon, Greater London, Heathrow International Airport has an exclusive cargo terminal. It facilitates smooth transport of goods from London to various parts of the world and vice-versa. It follows stringent guidelines to ensure the security of the cargo. From this airport, the packages are mainly transported to the United States, United Arab Emirates, and China. It handled cargo amounting to around 1.4 million in 2022. Books, medicines, and salmon were the major products transported during this time.

Conclusion

With businesses around the world trying to establish their hold in different markets globally, the demand for air cargo is on the rise. Cargo airports daily witness huge amounts of products ready to be shipped to different parts of the world. The personnel deployed at these airports are given special training to manage the cargo packages efficiently. They ensure that even amidst a huge rush of packages everything is taken care of in a systematic manner.

To avoid getting your packages detained at any international destination airport, you must adhere to the rules and regulations regarding imports prevailing in that country. Shiprocket’s CargoX is a dependable international logistics service that takes care of international air cargo shipping smoothly, following the regulations of each destination country. So, you don’t have to worry about the transportation of your shipments.

Are the cargo packages transported as it is after the shipment company hands them over to the airport staff?

The airport cargo and ground handling staff may prepare the cargo for flight after accepting the shipment. They may prepare the cargo, transport it as it is, or reject it depending on whether or not it clears the security checks. The security screening includes X-ray and Explosive Trace Detection.

Do the busiest cargo airports follow every little step while unloading the packages?

Yes, even the busiest cargo airports make sure that all the guidelines for unloading are followed. Every little step is taken care of during the process. This includes following all the safety protocols while unloading and dispatching the shipment and ensuring the shipments are handed over to the forwarders in a systematic manner.

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