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Top global airports by cargo tonnes: 2010

Find out which airports handled the most cargo in 2010.
There was a new name at the top of the list this year (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images).
There was a new name at the top of the list this year (Mike Clarke/AFP/Getty Images).

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The global air cargo industry is back, if figures released by Airports Council International are anything to go by.

The ten busiest cargo airports in the world in 2010 (based on tonnage) all reported solid year on year growth.

The fastest growth was seen at Anchorage, where tonnage was up 33.1% year on year. The lowest growth rate, at number two Memphis, was still 5.9%.

In 2009, by contrast, eight of the airports in the top ten saw year on year declines in cargo throughput.

The figures are based on loaded and unloaded freight and mail, in metric tonnes.

Read below to find out which were the world’s busiest cargo airports in 2010.

1. Hong Kong
Tonnes: 4 168 394
Change: 23.2%
About: After spectacular growth of 23.2% last year, Hong Kong has overtaken Memphis to top this list for the first time. The airport, built on reclaimed land, serves as a re-export point for manufacturers in the Far East.

The airport is currently home to the Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminal and the Asia Airfreight Terminal (combined capacity of 4.1 million tonnes per year), in addition to the DHL Central Asia Hub, which handles more than 35,000 parcels and 40,000 documents per hour. The New Cargo Terminal, due for completion in 2013, will have capacity of 2.6 million tonnes per annum.

2. Memphis
Tonnes: 3 916 937
Change: 5.9%
About: Although it has lost its number one spot, Memphis managed last year to top its previous record of 3.84 million tonnes achieved in 2007. The airport is a global hub airport for Fed Express, which flies from Memphis to cities across North America, Central America, the Caribbean and destinations in Europe and Asia.

3. Shanghai Pudong
Tonnes: 3 227 914
Change: 27.1%
About: Shanghai Pudong International opened in 1999 as the replacement for Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. The airport now has three runways, a fourth is planned and there is room in the airport’s blueprint for a fifth.

Cargo traffic has grown rapidly over the last decade, in line with China’s emergence as a manufacturing powerhouse. Cargo capacity currently stands at 4.2 million tonnes per annum.

4. Seoul Incheon
Tonnes: 2 684 500
Change: 16.1%
About: In fourth place is Korean’s leading airport, Incheon International, which opened in 2001. A steady flow of time-sensitive consumer electronics products, made by companies such as Samsung and LG, is exported through the airport.

The airport lies on an offshore island, made from two natural islands and reclaimed land. Annual cargo capacity stands at 4.5 million tonnes, a level set to increase to 5.8 million tonnes by 2015.

5. Anchorage
Tonnes: 2 578 396
Change: 33.1%
About: Moving up one place in the rankings is Anchorage, which bounced back in 2010 after a decline of 15% in 2009. If an item of air freight from the Far East reaches the Western half of the United States, there’s a good chance it will have passed through Anchorage, located in the icy state of Alaska.

FedEx Express and UPS both operate major hubs there. Alaskan authorities plan to increase fuel storage capacity and build a maintenance facility for large body cargo planes at the airport.

6. Paris CDG
Tonnes: 2 399 067
Change: 16.8%
About: Swapping places with Anchorage is Paris CDG, which turned in a solid performance last year in the face of Europe’s general economic stagnation. A number of dedicated cargo airlines are users of the airport, including DHL, FedEx, TNT and UPS.

7. Frankfurt am Main
Tonnes: 2 275 106
Change: 20.5%
About; Frankfurt moved up two places in the ranking last year on the back of 20.5% growth in cargo throughput. The home airport of Lufthansa is located in a well populated region, Frankfurt/Rhine-Main, with strong transport links to other parts of Europe. The airport has two cargo terminals and is served by both Emirates SkyCargo and Qatar Airways Cargo.

8. Dubai
Tonnes: 2 270 498
Change: 17.8%
About: Dubai retains eighth position on the list after entering the top ten first the first time in 2009. The former Dubai Cargo Village, now known as the Dubai International Airport Cargo Gateway, is the backbone of its operations. It has been in a permanent state of expansion since its opening in 1991 and capacity currently stands at 2.7 million tonnes of cargo per year.

Dubai’s aviation authority is keen to direct all-cargo airlines towards the new Al Maktoum International Airport near Jebel Ali. Cargo Gateway’s established position and the quality of its facilities, however, will ensure it remains popular for many years to come.

9. Tokyo Narita
Tonnes: 2 167 843
Change: 17.1%
About: Narita has quietly emerged as Japan’s main cargo hub, while Haneda has taken on the role of its main passenger airport. Despite talk of Japanese economic stagnation, the airport enjoyed strong growth in cargo throughput in 2010. Despite its success, complaints that it is crowded and too expensive to use persist.

10. Louisville
Tonnes: 2 166 226
Change: 11.1%
About: Louisville International is a joint civil-military public airport located in the US state of Kentucky. It success as a cargo airport is down to its status as the global air freight hub for UPS, which has invested billions in warehouse and handling facilities there. It still uses the IATA code ‘SDF’, after the airport’s former name, Standiford Field.

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