Travel - August 16, 2023

Global Cargo Movement: Insights from the Busiest Airports

From facilitating crucial international supply chains to ensuring the smooth delivery of personal Amazon packages, cargo shipping is an important part of the global economy. The total amount of air cargo transported was around 117 million metric tons in 2022.

This map uses data from the Airports Council International (ACI) to showcase the global airports that move the most goods.

The Busiest Cargo Airports The world’s busiest airport in terms of cargo is Hong Kong’s, a position it has held for nearly 28 years. Here’s a look at the ranking:

#1 HKG 🇭🇰 Hong Kong SAR 4,199,196

#2 MEM 🇺🇸 Memphis, USA 4,042,679

#3 ANC 🇺🇸 Anchorage, USA 3,461,603

#4 PVC 🇨🇳 Shanghai, China 3,117,216

#5 SDF 🇺🇸 Louisville, USA 3,067,234

#6 ICN 🇰🇷 Incheon, South Korea 2,945,855

#7 TPE 🇹🇼 Taipei, Taiwan 2,538,678

#8 MIA 🇺🇸 Miami, USA 2,499,837

#9 LAX 🇺🇸 Los Angeles, USA 2,489,854

#10 NRT 🇯🇵 Tokyo, Japan 2,399,298

Some of these bustling airports are not widely known, and except for LAX, they do not rank as high in terms of passenger traffic. For instance, Anchorage ranks among the top 10 in cargo processing because it is more cost-effective for cargo carriers to make stopovers and refuel there, rather than flying nonstop from Asia to the United States.

The Memphis airport handles the largest amount of cargo in North America, largely due to FedEx’s significant presence there. FedEx processes over 245,000 documents and 180,000 packages an hour at the Memphis airport.

In addition to being home to UPS’ Worldport, the world’s largest fully automated package processing facility, Louisville is also central to other transportation routes in the United States. Packages arrive at this hub and then proceed via the many highways and railways, as well as the Ohio River, which connects to the Mississippi River, one of the country’s primary waterways for barge transit.

Cargo Shipment Nearly every airport has witnessed substantial increases in the amount of cargo moved year-over-year, with numbers now surpassing pre-pandemic benchmarks. Notably, however, Shanghai and Hong Kong have experienced declines due to geopolitical tensions.

In Hong Kong, the movement of goods through air travel is integral to the economy. Approximately half of the entire region’s external trade passed through the airport in 2022.

Cargo transit is inherently crucial to the global economy. Around $6 trillion worth of goods are transported through airports annually, representing approximately 35% of world trade.

Text credits: by Flavio Bergmann

photomontage by Vinícius Pascoal

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