World’s top cargo carriers in 2010 — preliminary

Note:This summary was based on preliminary data provided by IATA. A complete analysis, based on final data, was included in the July issue of Cargo Facts. It is available (to Cargo Facts subscribers only) in the VIP section of this website.



The International Air Transport Association published preliminary data showing 2010 cargo traffic for the ten largest cargo airlines. Given the impact of the worldwide economic crisis in 2009, and the strength of the recovery in 2010, it is no surprise to see such strong growth reported. This is a contrast to 2009 when every carrier in the top ten, with the single exception of Dubai-based Emirates, reported declining traffic. Particularly interesting is the extent of the rebound for Taiwan-based China Airlines and EVA. Like all other carriers, they benefitted from the general increase in air freight demand, but they also received the additional benefit of gaining access to some of the cargo traffic flowing out of Mainland China as Taiwan/China relations thawed.

The chart below shows the top ten carriers in rank order for total cargo traffic. If only international cargo traffic is considered, the ten players remain the same as for total traffic, but integrators FedEx and UPS drop from positions 1 and 2, to 5 and 8, respectively. However, we point out that the  IATA data do not take into account the many mergers and acquisitions that have taken place in recent years. For example, IATA still treats Air France, KLM, and Maritinair as separate entities. If AF/KL/MP were treated as the single entity it has now become, then it might well overtake Cathay Pacific as the top international carrier, and be very close to UPS in the total cargo rankings. Other groupings that might cause some minor changes in the rankings include Lufthansa/Swiss/Austrian and United/Continental. 

Domestic traffic is dominated by FedEx and UPS, based on their huge US parcel business. In fact, number 2 UPS carried over four times the domestic traffic of its closest competitor, China Southern Airlines. 

We will provide an in-depth analysis of the full 2010 results,  including the effects of mergers and acquisitions, when more complete data (from several sources) becomes available.


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