The world's largest air carriers

Fedex, Emirates, UPS... which of the world's air carriers do you think handles the most freight?

The Air… another gateway to the vast world of global trade

Although more expensive, air freight is a faster, safer, and a more reliable way to transport goods with greater access to remote destinations. Airlines constitute more than 35% of global trade by value, transporting at least 52 million tonnes of goods a year, however this represents less than 1% of trade by volume. Airlines transport around $6 trillion in value of goods. That is equivalent to $18.6 billion worth of transported on a daily basis. According to IATA’s World Air Transport Statistics report, the top 25 air carriers saw a huge drop of 9.1% year on year in scheduled cargo tonne km (CTK), due to COVID-19 restrictions hindering the air cargo industry’s capacity. However, air freight rates were 55.9% higher in 2020 compared to 2019, resulting in a new all time record of $128.2 billion and over 27% growth in revenue. That being said, let’s have a look at the top 5 air carriers of 2020. 

FedEx Express

Federal Express, better known as Fedex Express, remains the world’s largest air cargo carrier, in terms of fleet size and cargo tons carried. Since 1971, Fedex has grown to be one of the largest air cargo operators, transporting freight and packages to over 220 countries and territories across the globe. With its global headquarters stationed in Memphis, it occupies over 3 million square meters of space and is responsible for 99% of cargo handled at Memphis Airport.

    • 🏆 Rank: #1
    • 📦 Cargo Tonne-Kilometres: 19.65 Billion FTK
    • 📊 Cargo Tonnes Carried: 8.09 Million Tonnes 
    • ✈️ Aircraft Fleet: 689 
    • 🌍 Destinations: 375

United Parcel Services (UPS)

UPS, or United Parcel Service, the second largest air cargo operator, flies to over 815 destinations globally and delivers 20.7 million packages everyday. UPS's most renowned facility named “Worldport” is the largest fully automated package handling facility in the world. Furthermore, UPS receives 374 million tracking requests per day and has over 1000 facilities to its name.

    • 🏆 Rank: #4
    • 📦 Cargo Tonne-Kilometres: 14.37 Billion FTK
    • 📊 Cargo Tonnes Carried: 5.06 Million Tonnes 
    • ✈️ Aircraft Fleet: 228
    • 🌍 Destinations: 815

Qatar Airways

Established in 1997, Qatar Airways has become one of the fastest growing air cargo carriers globally, averaging double digit growth year on year. Famous for as a passenger airline, Qatar airlines launched its first dedicated cargo flights in 2009 and is currently ranked as third largest air cargo operator.  It was also one of the first movers to convert passenger aircrafts to cargo aircrafts and is the number 1 ranked non parcel specialist in the world with almost 10% of total volume.

    • 🏆 Rank: #3
    • 📦 Cargo Tonne-Kilometres: 13.74 Billion FTK
    • 📊 Cargo Tonnes Carried: 2.3 Million Tonnes
    • ✈️ Aircraft Fleet: 28 (cargo) + 205 (passenger/cargo)
    • 🌍 Destinations: 60

Emirates Airlines

Emirates Skycargo, established in 1985 is the fourth largest air freight cargo operator in the world. In its first year, Emirates handled over 10 thousand tonnes of freight and now handles an impressive 1.8 billions tonnes of freight. In October 2020, Emirates SkyCargo set up the world’s largest dedicated airside hub for COVID-19 vaccines and a rapid response team to manage and expedite any transportation request of the vaccines. They have now established a facility, dedicated for vaccines and pharmaceuticals, that holds over 15 thousand sq meters of storage and fulfillment space.

    • 🏆 Rank: #3
    • 📦 Cargo Tonne-Kilometres: 9.5 Billion FTK
    • 📊 Cargo Tonnes Carried: 1.8 Million Tonnes 
    • ✈️ Aircraft Fleet: 10 (cargo) + 255 (passenger/cargo)
    • 🌍 Destinations: 84

Cathay PacificCathay pacific cargo

Cathay Pacific, the flag carrier of Hong Kong is ranked as the fifth largest air cargo carrier in terms of cargo tonne per kilometers carried (8.137 million). The airlines started cargo operations in 1982, using Hong Kong as its main hub, which resulted in Hong Kong transforming into one of the busiest cargo airports in the world. In 2020, Cathay Pacific unveiled their new air cargo terminal, located in Hong Kong, designed to handle a capacity of 2.6 million tonnes. 

    • 🏆 Rank: #5
    • 📦 Cargo Tonne-Kilometres: 8.13 Billion FTK
    • 📊 Cargo Tonnes Carried: 1.2 Million Tonnes  
    • ✈️ Aircraft Fleet: 20 (cargo) + 153 (passenger/cargo)
    • 🌍 Destinations: 46 

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