How much air freight did YOU generate?

Who ordered all this stuff? Was it you?

Over the past week, we have published a three-part analysis of the world’s top fifty cargo airports. This is either Part IV, or something completely different, take your pick.

In the previous posts we have examined the international, domestic, and total freight handled by the fifty busiest cargo airports in 2016. We are not alone in this, but in subsequent posts we have broken the data down to show airport freight handles by large geographic regions, by country, and by urban agglomeration, and provided analysis that we hope will have given you a perspective on freight flows that you can’t get elsewhere.

In Part II, in our discussion of airport freight handle by country, we made the comment that most people who are involved in the air freight and express industry would hardly be surprised by the rankings of the top fifty countries. Most of you could probably have guessed most of the top ten without much time for thought. The US, China, Japan, Germany, the UAE, Korea, India, the UK, France, Taiwan. And so on. Having the air freight volume handled by the top fifty countries in an easy-to-read chart is useful, but, as we said at the time, breaking the data down further, to freight handled in contiguous urban or industrial regions (with express and interline hubs excluded), offers a much clearer picture of the world’s trade flows.

We offered that breakdown in Part III, but thinking back to the breakdown by country got us wondering. What does knowing that airports in China handled three times as much freight as airports in Japan really tell us? Likewise, knowing that airports in Thailand handled slightly more freight than airports in Canada might get you a prize at trivia night somewhere, but what does it really mean in terms of the air freight business?

To get to that, we drilled down to the very last layer. Past continents, past countries, past urban regions, past everything until we got to the end of the chain…


How much air freight do you generate. Yes, you. You the citizen of any of the fifty countries in that earlier chart, how much air freight can be traced to you every year?

Of course, we didn’t have the time or resources to poll every citizen of every one of those fifty countries, so we turned to the 2016 population statistics provided by the United Nations and combined it with Airports Council International data  to calculate the average air freight volume, in kilograms, generated by the citizens of the fifty countries whose airports handle almost 98% of the worldwide total.

Puts the “volume by country” numbers in a whole new light, doesn’t it?

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