Top Thirty Cargo Airports in 2013

Hong Kong International retained its top spot in the world cargo airport rankings last year, with volume up 2.3% to 4.2 million tonnes.

According to the Airports Council International, total cargo handled by the 1,105 airports that have so far reported their full-year 2013 results was up 0.7% over 2012 to 86.9 million tonnes. International cargo handled was up 0.9% to 55.9 million tonnes, accounting for 64.3% of the total volume.

Worldwide airport cargo handle 2013

As shown in the chart above, the growth was led by airports in the Middle East, which reported their combined handle up 5.1% to 6.0 million tonnes, driven by the increasing importance of Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Jeddah as cargo hubs connecting Asia, Europe, and Africa. However, while these Middle East airports saw strong cargo growth, there are relatively few of them and their contribution to the worldwide total is relatively small, accounting for just 6.9%. Airports in the Asia-Pacific, North America, and Europe reported their total handles up 1.0%, 0.1%, and 0.6%, respectively. And since among them they account for 86.0% of the worldwide total, their very slightly positive performance is what led to the overall 0.7% increase over 2012.

Turning from the worldwide results to the top thirty individual airports, we see very little change from last year. Dubai entered the top five for the first time, nudging Anchorage into sixth spot, but other than a few similar up and-down-shuffles, the only significant change is that Abu Dhabi has joined the top thirty, while Newark has been bumped.

Top 30 cargo airports 2013As can be seen in the chart, most of the top thirty cargo airports reported relatively little change in their handle from the previous year. The one glaring exception is Abu Dhabi, which handled almost 25% more cargo year-over-year, reflecting the growth in cargo traffic flown by Etihad Airways, which makes its home there.

Other airports seeing growth of more than a few percentage points are Shenzhen (up 6.9%), Dubai (up 6.8%), Indianapolis (up 6.4%), Guangzhou and Tokyo Haneda (both up 4.9%), and Doha (up 4.6%). And while fully one-third of the top thirty cargo airports reported a year-over-year decline, only two were down by more than 4%: Osaka (down 5.6%) and Bangkok (down 8.1%)

On a regional basis, gains and losses were spread relatively evenly among top-thirty airports in the Asia-Pacific, North America,  and Europe, while the three airports from the Middle East all reported solid gains.

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