How did air cargo hubs performed , a brief look who's at top in 2020

Covid19 saw airport passenger terminals turned into ghost towns in 2020, but airfreight kept flowing through global hubs, be it on freighters or preighters.

Global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports nose-dived 45.7% in 2020, according to Airports Council International (ACI) World data, but volumes in the top 10 cargo hubs grew 3% to 30.6m tonnes last year, representing some 28% of global throughput.

The top two in the premier league of cargo hubs swapped places, with Memphis now in first place at 4.6m tonnes, a 6.7% increase over pre-pandemic 2019. Hong Kong edged down to second place after a 7.1% decrease in volumes to nearly 4.5m tonnes.

Pudong Shanghai remained in third slot with 3.7m tonnes, up by 1.4%. The remaining seven places saw US, Chinese and Middle East hubs swapping places, something to be expected in a pandemic, although there should be a special mention for top of the world hub Anchorage, in fourth place at 3.1m tonnes with the largest top ten volume percentage increase at 15%.

Ocean freight port congestion, scattered empty containers and unreliable sailing schedules provided a modal shift bonus for airfreight in 2021.

The world’s top 20 cargo hubs proved themselves in 2020 and beyond but airport operators and their tenants still face big issues around sustainability and preparing for a post-pandemic aviation sector.