IATA released preliminary data from the new edition of its World Air Transport Statistics publication, covering the aviation industry’s performance in 2012, including a list of the top ten cargo carriers. As always, the IATA numbers (shown in the chart below), are informative and misleading, all at the same time.
For example, although It seems fitting that in Ram Menen’s last full year as head of cargo operations at Emirates, the Dubai-based carrier topped IATA’s list of the world’s busiest international cargo carriers, the real Number One isn’t even on the list. If IATA reported the cargo activities of Air France-KLM as a single entity, the carrier would rank first on the international list with about 10.6 billion FTKs, and second for total cargo, ahead of UPS. But for whatever reason, not only does IATA continue to report Air France and KLM as separate carriers, it does not report cargo carried by Martinair at all. Given that AF-KLM has been reporting its cargo activities as a single entity for several years now, it is puzzling that IATA has not made the update.
Nor does IATA acknowledge the existence of the Lufthansa Group, but reports cargo carried by subsidiaries (SWISS, for example) separately. The Lufthansa Group reported 2012 cargo traffic of 10.2 billion FTKs, which would put it in the number two spot, right behind Air France-KLM. (And, for whatever it’s worth, Lufthansa Cargo reported 2012 traffic of 8.7 billion FTKs, not the 7.2 billion shown by IATA). Likewise, IATA reports British Airways and Iberia as separate entities, despite the fact that their cargo activities have been combined as IAG Cargo – which reported traffic of 6.1 billion FTKs in 2012.
With those caveats out of the way, here is IATA’s take on the world’s busiest cargo carriers in 2012, followed by our own adjusted summary of the top ten:
I should probably add a postscript here to say that if one looked at IATA’s complete listing of freight carried by every airline it tracks, Air France, KLM, SWISS, etc would be there. But to publish a “Top Ten” list without any explanation of why it might offer a less-than-accurate picture seems odd.