Who Owns The Skies
Of the top 10 international cargo airlines, the United States is home to both the No. 1 and No. 3 carriers. FedEx ranks first globally with 16,020 freight-ton kilometers (FTK)—one ton of cargo carried one kilometer—and UPS is third with 10,936 FTK, though a large portion of each airline’s cargo is carried on domestic flights within their overnight U.S. network. (FedEx ranks fifth and UPS ninth for purely international traffic, while leading international carriers are Emirates, followed by Cathay Pacific and Korean Air.)
Here’s how the rest of the top 10 international air cargo carriers compare.
2. Emirates | 11,240 FTK
Dubai-based Emirates runs a large fleet of wide-body aircraft (smaller narrow body or single-aisle planes cannot take containers and pallets). The carrier has 219 passenger aircraft and 14 freighters. Its home base, which has little origin/destination traffic, serves chiefly as a transit point for cargo moving between two other cities.
4. Cathay Pacific | 9,463 FTK
Much of Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific’s cargo is to or from China, though it also serves most major points in Asia and the main U.S. gateways. The airline has 124 wide-body aircraft, including 15 freighters, all of them Boeing 747s with payload capacity of 110 to 140 tons.
5. Korean Air | 8,070 FTK
Besides its home market, Korean Air covers 114 international destinations in 50 countries, including most major points in Asia. It has 164 aircraft, including more than 20 freighters.
6. Lufthansa | 7,054 FTK
Frankfurt-based Lufthansa, the leading European cargo carrier, serves 193 international destinations in 81 countries with a fleet of 272 aircraft, including 19 freighters. Its cargo division was spun off as a standalone company.
7. Singapore Airlines | 6,019 FTK
Singapore Airlines flies to 64 destinations in 35 countries. It operates an all-wide body fleet of 108 aircraft, plus 10 Boeing 747-400 cargo planes.
8. Qatar Airways | 5,997 FTK
Qatar Airways serves 140 international destinations from its hub in Doha. The airline, which has been expanding rapidly, currently operates 161 aircraft, including 15 large and mid-sized freighters.
9. Cargolux | 5,753 FTK
Cargolux is a pure freighter airline based in Luxembourg with a fleet of 21 Boeing 747 cargo aircraft. Having formed an alliance with Henan Civil Aviation Development and Investment, the airline is in the process of building a second hub in China and intends to establish a China-based cargo airline.
10. China Airlines | 5,266 FTK
China Airlines, based in Taipei, Taiwan, has a fleet of 81 aircraft, including 18 B747 freighters. The cargo division operates 91 pure freighter flights weekly to 33 destinations.
Data Source: International Air Transport Association, 2014
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