Research: Which Airports Control Europe’s Freight?

Amid a rapidly-shifting world economy and a constantly evolving transportation industry; Europe continues to grow as a global, interconnected hub of goods trade. The exchange and transportation of items, between and within countries happens on a staggeringly large scale across the continent every day. The UK follows the trend exporting £173.4 billion worth of goods to EU countries just last year. One glance at the packaging in a supermarket shows just how many European locales our everyday goods originate from.

CP Cases, who specialise in custom flight cases for air cargo and freight, have conducted research to find out not only which airports are Europe’s biggest for freight. But which are the up-and-coming hubs to watch out for? 

Where are Europe’s growing airport hubs for freight and mail?

At first glance, the table above appears to display many of the usual suspects. Airports like Frankfurt, Charles de Gaulle, Heathrow and Schiphol rank highest for total freight tonnage. These are viewed as international contenders by any measure – be it sheer size, passenger numbers or cargo traffic.

However, the rankings change drastically when ordered by growth. All those airports drop out of the top 20 altogether when ranked for any kind of increase. Beauvais-Tille, usually seen as Paris’s third airport, jumps to the top spot in Europe for both year-on-year and 5-year increases.

Elsewhere in France, Biarritz-Pays Basque is one of the anomalies that seem to suggest lower overall growth in the year to 2018 than over the last 5 years. It ranks fifth-highest for 5-year growth, despite ranking second-lowest in Europe for tonnage. Some of the biggest airports show slow growth. London Stansted ranks fifth-lowest for 5-year growth, despite a tonnage well within the top 20. 

Whose ranking the highest?

The European Freight & Mail Airport Hubs of Europe

Top 20 Airport Hubs of Freight & Mail by Tonnes processed, including the latest data yearly growth, 5 year growth, and 10 year growth.

Broadly, the rankings show that while there is no single airport that jumps out as a major new contender; several countries are quickly developing into important hubs for European freight processing. The top 10 fastest-growing airports across the year to 2018, and the last 5 and 10 years, all include several in Spain. Most notably, Valladolid Airport in northwestern Spain appears in all three, placing second for the 10-year period. This suggests that this and Beauvais-Tille have grown most consistently in Europe’s freight overall. 

Spain’s apparent dominance in freight growth also shows when comparing the top 20 total tonnages; with the top 20 for 10-year growth. Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas, Barcelona-El Prat and Zaragoza all appear in both lists. This suggests that this growth is now an ongoing and deep-rooted trend.

Norway also emerges as a recent hub for growth with three airports among the top 10 for year-on-year growth to 2018. Across Central and Eastern Europe, significant growth is particularly visible across the 10-year period. With airports in Bulgaria, Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia all appearing among the top 10. Closer to home, the UK is far from leading the charge in freight processing growth. East Midlands remains the second biggest cargo airport in the country behind Heathrow.

As Europe’s hubs have shifted and spread across the continent over the last few decades, CP Cases have spent almost 50 years perfecting our reliable and long-lasting flight cases. With air freight continuing to place a huge demand on airports, we continue to innovate. Our high-quality, durable cases are constantly tried and tested. We remain the number one choice for getting your equipment from A to B.