The U.S. air cargo market has been increasing at a steady clip. The economy has officially rebounded and in 2017 alone roughly 61.5 million tons of freight moved via airlines worldwide. Cargo airlines enjoyed healthy revenues of $95.9 billion, and there are a handful of American cargo airports that surged into 2019 as a result.
International Airport (MEM)
leader of the pack, MEM is No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 2 globally. Hong Kong is
the worldwide leader with Shanghai-Pudong following at No. 3.
MEM, FedEx is a massive player and responsible in a large degree for Memphis’ substantial
activity. The global delivery company accounts for roughly 99 percent of cargo
that passes through Memphis every day. In fact, MEM registers 450-plus arrivals
and departures daily.
maintains 40.9 million square feet of space (under lease) at MEM, and the sheer
volume that FedEx moves allows the airport to maintain competitively low
landing fees. This is the goal of every airport and MEM is gaining on the big boys
globally as a result.
Stevens Anchorage International Airport (TSAIA)
Air Cargo Excellence (ACE) Awards went to TSAIA, the No. 2 in U.S. cargo
volume. Alaska is a bit of an outlier, figuratively and literally, but
unbeknownst to the larger public, most big cargo airlines stop off at Ted
Stevens to refuel as it is nearly halfway between Beijing and New York. There
are planes that can fly non-stop from China to anywhere in the U.S., but they
typically possess less cargo. If one prioritizes cargo over time, then greater cargo
space planes equate to increased revenues as more refueling is necessary.
Stevens’ spokespeople are famous for pointing out that the airport is less than
10 hours from 90 percent of the modern, industrialized world. Growth rates for
air freight have skyrocketed over the past handful of years. In 2014, airlines
transported an impressive 40 million metric tons of goods. However, that was
less than 1 percent of world trade (measured by volume). Today, air freight is
more than double that of shipping.
Stevens comes in fourth in the world, and their ground handlers can nimbly turn
a cargo plane around in less than two hours. The airport is named is after the
late U.S. Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), a master tactician who was able to
funnel a tremendous amount of federal funding to Anchorage, which aided in the
construction and maintenance of runways and the city at large. Roughly one in
every 10 jobs in Anchorage is directly or indirectly (third-party providers,
etc.) related to the airport.
with MEM and FedEx, when one thinks of Louisville International Airport, UPS
springs to mind. United Parcel Service counts on a 5.2 million-square-foot
processing facility that can sort a whopping 416,000-plus packages an hour. UPS
maintains 12 sorting hubs and Louisville is by far the largest. With a 7.2-mile
perimeter, the size of the runways dwarfs the passenger terminal.
why Louisville of all places, you ask? First, the city has good weather and is
only 2.5 hours from approximately 75 percent of the U.S. population. Zappos has
set up shop nearby and Sprint and Nikon also use UPS for nearly all their
UPS’s Worldport is the largest, automated package handling facility worldwide. An impressive 300 flights arrive and depart daily, with December being the peak holiday shipping season.
International Airport (Chicago)
the heels of completing the second phase of a brand new cargo facility, don’t
be surprised to see O’Hare jump a couple spots next year. In 2017, their cargo
volumes were up by 15 percent, which makes yet another record year for freight
arrivals and departures.
by a $160 million investment from Aeroterm and roughly $62 million from the
airport, the Phase II building measures a whopping 240,000 square feet. Once all
phases are complete, 800,000 square feet will be available, which means up to
15 widebody aircraft will have the ability to unload at any time at O’Hare.
Trade with Asian countries is growing annually, with China being the top destination. Unsurprisingly, DHL also counts on a strong presence at O’Hare, namely a 54,000-square-foot gateway that cost $10 million to develop.
International Airport (MIA)
got off to a hot start last year, registering 4 percent growth in freight
tonnage over the first three months. In fact, by the end of the year, MIA
witnessed an increase of cargo volumes by 60,000 tons thanks to three new
carriers. But perhaps most exciting for the fifth largest cargo airport in the
States is their new partnership with Amazon Air.
twice-daily freighter service was announced by Amazon Air last October, which
made perfect sense being that the largest retailer on the planet already
occupies four warehouses in Miami-Dade County alone.
was up 17.25 percent in domestic cargo tonnage and 1.78 percent in
international cargo tonnage in 2018. Demand from Latin America e-commerce is expected
to be red hot, which should equate to potential record profits for MIA.
the major U.S. airport players in air cargo are clear, nipping at their heels
are the likes of Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky and
John F. Kennedy (New York). The economy is humming, which means all these cargo
hotspots are well into a busy 2019. Happy shipping!