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Top 25 air cargo carriers rise and fall in IATA supply chain rankings

IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) data again shows the rankings of the top 25 cargo airlines last year, reports London's Air Cargo News.

Federal Express (FedEx) retained its position as the top cargo airline in 2021, albeit with less growth than other top-performing airlines.

The US express giant saw its volumes increase by 5.1 per cent year on year to 20.7bn CTK. However, volume growth weakened compared with 2020, when there was a 12.3 per cent year-on-year increase over 2019.

FedEx benefitted from strong demand for ecommerce and Covid vaccines, PPE and related supplies, commented FedEx chairman and CEO Fred Smith.

Pandemic-related cargo charters and the resumption of passenger operations helped Qatar Airways move into second place in 2021, with a volume increase of 17.2 per cent year on year to 16.1bn CTK. The fast-growing carrier started the year by adding the capacity of three B777-200Fs.

According to Qatar Airways Cargo's (QAC) website, its freighter fleet currently includes two B747-8Fs, two B747-400Fs, 26 B777-200Fs and one Airbus A310-300F. It also operates two A330-300 mini freighters. At the height of the pandemic the carrier also operated six B777s as mini-freighters.

United Parcel Service (UPS) saw growth of 8.1 per cent to 15.5bn CTK last year, but the express operator dropped one place to third position as, like FedEx, growth increased at a slower rate than the overall top 25.

UPS's large fleet enabled it to make the most of capacity demand, but like FedEx, it was not able to capitalise on demand from freight forwarders and shippers for dedicated operations.

UPS says growth in ecommerce slowed as retailers opened their stores: "We experienced a year-on-year increase in commercial volume as business returned to pre-pandemic levels, while business-to-consumer volume declined, partly due to the surge in ecommerce at the onset of the pandemic.

Emirates benefited from the return of passenger operations to retain fourth place among the top cargo carriers with a 28.8 per cent increase year on year to 11.8bn CTK.

Cargo airline and aircraft lessor Atlas Air picked up both market growth and additional charter demand.

Said Atlas president and CEO John Dietrich: "In 2021, we deepened relationships with Cainiao, CEVA Logistics, DB Schenker, DHL, DSV, FedEx, Flexport, Geodis, HP Inc, Icelandair, JAS, Kuehne+Nagel, SF Group and UPS."

All Nippon Airways (ANA) was another airline to prosper in 2021 with demand for e-commerce and electronics serving it well.

In April 2021, ANA expanded its Los Angeles-Tokyo Narita freighter service with the use of B777Fs, rather than B767Fs to offer more capacity.

Already under pressure from 2020's cut to belly capacity and falling cargo volumes in 2019, Cathay Pacific Airways' capacity was further impacted by quarantine requirements for Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew.

While these restrictions were relaxed in April last year, many remained, affecting the carrier's ability to restart passenger operations.

The end of 2021 was also marred by a seven-day suspension of long-haul freighter and cargo-only passenger flights to and from Hong Kong in response to further cargo crew quarantine requirements.

2021 also saw Air France and Etihad Airways become new entrants to the top 25 airlines, while KLM and Silk Way West Airlines dropped out of the list.

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Top 25 air cargo carriers rise and fall in IATA supply chain rankings
Top 25 air cargo carriers rise and fall in IATA supply chain rankings


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