Top International Airport Hubs - Global Trade Magazine
  April 20th, 2015 | Written by

Top International Airport Hubs

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Global commerce got a big boost at the end of 2014 when airfreight demand rose 4.2 percent, year-over-year, in November. Since air cargo accounts for roughly one-third of the value of international goods, such an increase is a major win for the economy, International Air Transport Association officials say.

Below are seven airports that are handling the bulk of these cargo loads:

7. Frankfurt Airport
Europe’s top cargo gateway is on a serious growth trajectory, as evidenced by the German airport’s 1.7 percent, year-over-year jump in freight volumes in 2014. Meeting heightened demand for cargo services led Frankfurt Airport officials to recently commission the four-lane expansion of the access road to its CargoCity hub and open a new truck lot for freight.

6. Louisville International Airport
Processing more than 10 billion pounds of freight each year, Louisville Airport is home to UPS’s expansive Worldport hub. The 5,200,000-square-foot facility—the size of 80 football fields—enables UPS to sort 416,000 packages an hour, helping Louisville retain the title as the world’s second-busiest domestic cargo airport. Freight volumes at Louisville airport were particularly high in 2014, with traffic rising 8 percent, year-over-year, in September.

5. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport
Situated 9.5 flying hours away from 90 percent of the industrialized world, Anchorage is a major spot for carriers to transfer cargo. The airport sits halfway across the Pacific Ocean on the Great Circle route, which provides a technical stop for the 450 wide-bodied freighters that land at Anchorage airport each week.

4. Dubai Airports
For decades, Dubai International Airport was the United Arab Emirates’ premier airfreight hub; now, Dubai World Central (DWC)-Al Maktoum International Airport is assuming that role. The latter airport opened to freight operations only in June 2010 and witnessed triple-digit freight volume growth less than four years later. As of April 2014, all freighters must operate from DWC; only the integrators are permitted to fly cargo from Dubai International.

3. Shanghai Pudong International Airport
The world’s most-populated city also houses the third-largest airport for cargo. Easing air traffic congestion led Chinese authorities to construct a fourth runway at the end of 2014—a project that expands Pudong airport’s annual freight and mail capacity to 4.75 million tonnes. Shanghai Pudong International Airport Cargo Terminal Co., Ltd. (PACTL) will handle the majority of these loads in its 443,000-square-foot facility, which features freight terminal buildings and a dangerous-goods warehouse.

2. Memphis International Airport
Despite relinquishing its 18-year title as the world’s top cargo airport in 2010, FedEx Express hub Memphis International Airport is still a major player in the global airfreight arena. Freight contributes roughly $23 billion a year to Memphis’ economy—a volume that has been propelled by the city’s strong cargo infrastructure. In addition to major rail thoroughfares, Memphis boasts the third-largest river port in the U.S. and the convergence of highways.

1. Hong Kong International Airport
November was a record-breaking month for the world’s top cargo hub, with freight volumes at HKIA surging 5.5 percent, year-over-year, to 421,000 tonnes. Exports performed particularly well during this period—a testament to Hong Kong’s position as a major exporter of Asian goods. No longer is the region simply the “world’s factory;” however; it has emerged as one of the fastest-growing markets for Western consumer goods, particularly high-fashion items.

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