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The top 10 busiest airports in the world by cargo handled

In this article, we review which airports handled the largest amount of cargo by metric tonne that passed through the airport in 2021, with consideration for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top 20 busiest airports in the world by cargo handled

The following list is based on figures from Airports Council International (ACI) and displays the top 10 airports in order of tonnes of cargo handled in 2021. Figures are calculated by totalling all loaded and unloaded freight and mail at each airport throughout the course of the year.

This article was updated on 27 April 2022, based on figures published on 11 April 2022.

1. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)Hong Kong International Airport reports steady passenger growth

The world’s busiest airport for 10 consecutive years in a row, now falls to second place. Hong Kong International Airport is the main airport for the region and handled almost half a million tonnes more than its closest competitor airport in 2019.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 5,025,495

Compared to 2020: 12.5 per cent increase

2. Memphis International Airport (MEM)

Memphis International Airport

A civil-military airport, Memphis International Airport is home to the FedEx Express global hub, which processes the majority of the company’s packages, subsequently resulting as the highest positioned airport on the list.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 4,480,465

Compared to 2020: 2.9 per cent decrease

Shanghai Pudong3. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)

One of two international airports in the region, Shanghai Pudong International Airport is a major hub in the Chinese aviation industry, serving predominantly international flights. 

Tonnes of cargo handled: 3,982,616

Compared to 2020: 8.0 per cent increase

4. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC)

Named after a U.S senator from Alaska, Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport is equidistant from Tokyo and New York, meaning it is situated less than 9.5 hours from 90 per cent of the industrial world.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 3,555,160

Compared to 2020: 12.6 per cent increase

5. Incheon International Airport (ICN)

Seoul Incheon

The largest airport in South Korea, Incheon International Airport is one of the main transport hubs in Northeast Asia and is the national gateway to the Republic of Korea.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 3,329,292

Compared to 2020: 18.0 per cent increase

6. Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF)

A civil-military airport located in Kentucky, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport is home to a major UPS hub and is one of the most significant cargo facilities in the U.S.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 3,052,269

Compared to 2020: 4.6 per cent increase

7. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport

(TPE)

Acting as the main international airport for Taipei and northern Taiwan, Taiwan Taoyuan, is Asia’s best-connected and gateway airport for cargo handling.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 2,812,065

Compared to 2020: 20.0 per cent increase

8. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Los Angeles Airport, commonly known as LAX, is the largest and busiest international airport on the U.S. West Coast, serving as a connection point for cargo traffic.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 2,691,830

Compared to 2020: 20.7 per cent increase

9. Doha Hamad International Airport (DOH)

The sole international airport in the state of Qatar, Doha Hamad International Airport is operated by Qatar Airways and rapidly becoming an increasingly important aviation hub.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 2,620,095

Compared to 2020: 31.1 per cent decrease

10. Tokyo Narita International Airport (NRT)

Originally known as ‘New Tokyo International Airport’, Narita International Airport is one of two international airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area, the other one being Haneda Airport.

Tonnes of cargo handled: 2,644,074

Compared to 2020: 20.5 per cent increase

Passenger numbers

To view the top 10 busiest airports in the world by passenger number – click here.

Aircraft movements

To view the top 10 busiest airports in the world by aircraft movements – click here.