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IATA Announces Top 25 Air Cargo Carriers by Volume

IATA Announces Top 25 Air Cargo Carriers by Volume

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) data for 2021 showed the top 25 cargo airlines last year had strong volume growth following a tough pandemic year.

Overall traffic in scheduled cargo tonne km (CTK) terms increased 18.7 per cent year on year in 2021, a drastic improvement on 2020’s decline of 10.6 per cent. Demand was also up 6.9 per cent on the pre-Covid year of 2019.

Federal Express (FedEx) retained its position as the top cargo airline in 2021, albeit with a lower growth level than many of the other top-performing airlines. The US express giant saw its volumes increase 5.1 per cent year on year to 20.7 billion CTK. Volume growth however weakened compared to 2020, when the company recorded a 12.3 per cent year-on-year increase over 2019.

FedEx benefitted from strong demand for e-commerce, Covid vaccines, personal protection equipment and related supplies, plus international export and US domestic package volume growth.

Pandemic-related cargo charters and the resumption of passenger operations helped Qatar Airways move into second place in 2021 with a volume increase of 17.2 per cent year on year to 16.1 billion CTK.

United Parcel Service (UPS) saw growth of 8.1 per cent to 15.5 billion CTK last year, but the express operator dropped one place to third position. UPS’s large fleet enabled it to make the most of demand but like FedEx, it wasn’t as able to capitalise on demand from freight forwarders and shippers for dedicated operations unlike others in the top 25.

Emirates benefited from the return of passenger operations to retain fourth place, but Cathay Pacific Airways’ capacity suffered due to quarantine requirements for Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew.

In general rankings, FedEx (1) comes first before Qatar Airways (2), UPS, (3) Emirates (4), Korean Air (5), Turkish Airlines (6), Cargolux (7), Atlas Air (8), Cathay Pacific (9), China Southern (10), China Airlines (11), Air China (12), Kalitta Air (13), AeroLogic (14), AirBridgeCargo Airlines (15), Singapore Airlines (16), Lufthansa (17), All Nippon Airways (18), EVA Air (19), United Airlines (20), Asiana Airlines (21), Ethiopian Airlines (22), Air France (23), Etihad Airways (24) and Polar Air Cargo (25).

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