How are top cargo airports performing?

June 13, 2018

The airports of Madrid, Mexico City, and Shanghai have seen the strongest increase of cargo throughput with double-digit growth rates. However, overall growth momentum across all top cargo airports is decreasing

Performance of Top 21 global cargo airports

Schindellegi / CH, June 14, 2018 – On average, the monitored airports signalled a growth rate of around six percent. Eight countries are represented among the top 10 airports with the strongest growth momentum. This reflects the broad upswing of the past 18 months.

From the ranking of Top 21 global cargo airports, the airports in Madrid, Mexico City, and Shanghai have seen the strongest increase of cargo throughput in recent months and recorded double-digit growth rates.


Madrid Barajas International Airport is the most dynamic airport, according to LogIndex, the data company of Kuehne + Nagel Group, one of the leading freight forwarders. For Madrid, an annual rate of 15.5% is expected by mid-2018 (based on 12-month moving average), driven by both significant international inbound and outbound tonnages. This is in line with other upbeat news throughout Spain: the Spanish airport operator Aena S.A. reported a growth rate of 14% in the first five months from a year earlier.

With a growth rate of 12.1%, Mexico City International Airport is ranked in second place according to LogIndex. While domestic cargo throughput remained broadly unchanged over the past 24 months, the international cargo handling saw a high rate of increase. Shanghai Pudong is in third place, with a 10% increase.

The performance of New York, Chicago, Zurich, and London (Heathrow) is noticeable. Hong Kong, the largest cargo hub in the world, grew by 5.4% (12th place). In contrast to this, trends are flat in Dubai, Indianapolis, Frankfurt, or at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Air Cargo growth is loosing momentum

Industry-wide freight tonne kilometres rose by 9.0% in 2017 and are expected to grow by 4% in 2018 according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). In fact, the pace of expansion has moderated significantly during the past six months, as reflected in the momentum indicator Month-over-3-Month change of the 12-month moving average.


This development coincided with a much smaller export order book in the manufacturing sector. Commenting on the statistics, João Monteiro, Managing Director LogIndex AG stated: «All airports in our sample show rising annual rates, even though the uptrend has slowed substantially in 2018. Looking ahead, there are reasons to be cautious amid rising uncertainty and threats from protectionist measures and rhetoric.»

gKNi is monitoring 75% of air cargo worldwide

Airfreight is responsible for more than 30% of cross-border merchandise trade by value. The airfreight transportation mode is frequently used for e-commerce and express deliveries, particularly during boom cycles. Furthermore, consumer discretionary, especially high-tech (semiconductors, smartphones), and perishables (meat, flowers) are often carried by aircraft. Jewellery and pharmaceuticals also take advantage of shorter transit time.

We are monitoring the 25 largest airports in 14 countries and our nowcasts cover 75% of air cargo volume worldwide. As airfreight is considered to be a leading indicator for the business cycle, our indicators allow near real-time assessment of the current state of global economies.

About LogIndex
LogIndex AG is the data company of Kuehne + Nagel Group with a FinTech and a LogTech arm. The LogTech arm offers logistics industry data-driven products for the logistics and supply chain industry. Specialized in Big Data Analytics and Trade Nowcasting, LogIndex serves also as an innovation laboratory within the Kuehne + Nagel Group. Founded in 2016, LogIndex, working with software engineers, economists and other specialists, is developing solutions whose prototypes are tested directly on the market. The innovation lab supports Kuehne + Nagel‘s digital initiatives and cooperates with reputable external networks, including universities.

About Kuehne + Nagel
With approximately 76,000 employees at more than 1,300 locations in over 100 countries, the Kuehne + Nagel Group is one of the world’s leading logistics companies. Its strong market position lies in the seafreight, airfreight, contract logistics and overland businesses, with a clear focus on providing IT-based integrated logistics solutions. Further information can be found at