Freight Traffic at the World’s Largest Airports, 2018

Freight Traffic at the World’s Largest Airports, 2018

Source: Airports Council International. Note: Includes airports with an annual cargo volume above 25,000 metric tons. Cargo includes mail.

Global air freight activity is clustered around East Asia, the American Midwest, and Western Europe. Other clusters are around the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Air freight activity is usually related to airports servicing important consumption markets or manufacturers of high-value goods, or to a hub in a national or international distribution system. Another factor concerns load centers in developing countries exporting perishables (e.g. produces, flowers) towards developed countries, such as many Latin American airports. Because cargo planes have less range than passenger planes, two airports play a notable intermediate role, Anchorage (Pacific Asia – North America traffic) and Dubai (Pacific Asia – Western Europe traffic). The largest freight airports are usually the hubs of global air freight integrators.

The importance of Pacific Asian airports is linked with the specific role of the region in the global economy, especially over electronics. Since these products tend to have a high value-to-weight ratio, air transport is particularly suitable for shipping to North American and Western European markets. The level of freight activity at airports tends to be different from that of passengers, especially in the United States. However, there a limited differences when looking at air cargo activity at the metropolitan level as most of the activity is concentrated in a single airport.