Aviation article(s)
April 15, 2024

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) retained its title as the world's busiest cargo airport in 2023, according to data released by the Airports Council International (ACI) World.


The latest report showed HKG maintaining the top spot for air cargo volumes globally from 2023. The airport has been the consistent top cargo hub for 13 years, although it dropped to second in 2020 due to the wide-ranging impacts of Covid-19.


The global trade representative of the world's airport authorities said HKG remained the world's busiest air cargo hub in 2023, recording 4.33 million metric tonnes of cargo last year, up 3.2% from the 4.2 million metric tonnes in 2022.


2023's figures are, however, still down by 9.9% from the pre-pandemic volume at HKG.


Self Photos / Files - ec0f78990bea4017b5a938b21cc021c1.png

 [Source: ACI World]


"Air cargo volumes are estimated to have decreased by 3.1% year-over-year (-4.6% versus 2019), to close to 113 million metric tonnes in 2023," ACI World said in its latest report.


For 2023, Memphis International Airport (MEM)—home to the FedEx Express global hub—took the second spot with 3.88 million metric tonnes, which is down 4% year over year.


Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) took the third spot with 3.44 million metric tonnes of cargo, recording a 10.4% increase, the highest growth among all the airports on ACI's top 10 busiest cargo hubs in 2023. This is, however, still 5.3% below the airport's performance pre-pandemic.


ACI World said Anchorage Airport (ANC), with 3.38 million metric tonnes of cargo handled in 2023, was the fourth busiest freight hub globally, although the number was down 2.4% year-on-year.


Cargo volume at ANC was up 23.1% compared to its pre-pandemic performance in 2019.


Incheon International Airport (ICN) was the world's 5th busiest air cargo hub, with 2.74 million metric tonnes of freight recorded for 2023 —6.9% lower than 2022 and also 0.7% lower than its 2019 record.


Rounding the top 10 busiest air cargo airports list are Louisville International Airport —the primary hub of UPS Airlines (2.73 million metric tonnes), Miami International Airport (2.53 million metric tonnes), Doha International Airport (2.36 million metric tonnes), Los Angeles International Airport (2.13 million metric tonnes), and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (2.11 million metric tonnes).


Decline attributed to geopolitical tensions, supply chain woes


"Notably, cargo continues to play a key role in world commerce despite the year-over-year decrease. Hong Kong International Airport has maintained the top position, followed by Memphis International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Doha International Airport rejoins the top 10, jumping to number 8 with a growth of 6.3% over 2019," WorldACD said.

"Air cargo volumes in the top 10 — representing around 26% (29.6 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes in 2023 — lost 3.5% in 2023 year-over-year," it added, noting that the decline can be attributed to the ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global trade and supply chains.


In terms of aircraft movements, ACI said Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is at the top with 776,818 movements in 2023 (up 7.1% from 20212) but still below its 2019 result by 14.2%.


Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) is in 2nd rank, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW), Denver International Airport (DIA), and Las Vegas Airport (LAS).


The global trade representative of the world's airport authorities said 2023 global aircraft movements are close to 95 million, representing a gain of 11.8% from 2022 results or a recovery of 92.7% from pre-pandemic levels.


Self Photos / Files - 2d7b5990929542b8962c5e904d25bd8b.png

 [Source: ACI World]


The top 10 airports — representing over 6% of global traffic (6 million movements) —witnessed a gain of 7.4% from their 2022 results or a recovery of 96.4% vis-à-vis their 2019 results (6.2 million in 2019).


Jack So, chairman of Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), said the airport will continue to invest to maintain the hub's standing.


"We are proud to have claimed once again the top spot for air cargo throughput. This accomplishment demonstrates HKIA's resilience, unparalleled efficiency and world-class cargo services. Air cargo is a key driver of the growth of Hong Kong’s logistics industry and overall economic development. AAHK shall continue to work tirelessly with our air cargo community to further strengthen HKIA's competitiveness as a global cargo hub," he said following the announcement that Hong Kong maintained its top spot as the world's busiest cargo airport in 2023.


Hong Kong's flag carrier, Cathay Pacific, also welcomed the news that HKIA had been named the world's busiest cargo airport.


"Hong Kong once again being named number one in the world for air cargo is a testament to the resilience, innovation and collaboration of the Hong Kong air cargo community," said Tom Owen, director of cargo at Cathay.


"With its world-leading infrastructure, expertise and capabilities, supported by the increased development of intermodal connectivity within the Greater Bay Area, Hong Kong continues to be at the forefront of the global air cargo industry," he added.

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