IATA World Air Transport Statistics (WATS) data for 2021 showed the top 25 cargo airlines last year had strong volume growth following a tough first pandemic year. Overall traffic in scheduled cargo tonne km (CTK) terms increased by 18.7% year on year in 2021, a drastic improvement on 2020’s decline of 10.6%. Demand was also up 6.9% in the pre-Covid year of 2019.
Federal Express (FedEx; FDX /FX) retained its position as the top cargo airline in 2021, albeit with a lower growth level than many of the other top-performing airlines.FedEx benefitted from strong demand for e-commerce, Covid vaccines, PPE and related supplies, plus international export and US domestic package volume growth. Pandemic-related cargo charters and the resumption of passenger operations helped Qatar Airways (QTR /QR) move into second place from the third in 2020 with a volume increase to 16.1bn CTK (y-o-y +17.2%). United Parcel Service (UPS/5X) was15.5bn CTK (+8.1%) last year, but the express operator dropped one place to third position. Emirates (UAE/EK) benefited from the return of passenger operations to retain fourth place, but Cathay Pacific Airways’ (CPA /CX) capacity suffered due to quarantine requirements for Hong Kong-based pilots and cabin crew. All Nippon Airways (ANA /NH) ranked 18th among Japanese airlines. The airline has increased its fleet size while responding to demand for e-commerce and electronic devices, and has made significant growth from last year's 23rd place.
The overall ranking is as follows. 1. Federal Express (FDX / FX) 2. Qatar Airways (QTR /QR) 3. United Parcel Service (UPS/5X) 4. Emirates (UAE/ EK) 5. Koean Air (KAL/KE) 6. Turkish Airlines (THY /TK) 7. Cargolux (CLX/CV) 8. Atlas Air (GTI /5Y) 9. Cathay Pacific Airways (CPA /CX) 10. China Southern Airlines (CSN /CZ) 11. China Airlines (CAL /CI) 12. Air China (CCA /CA) 13. Kalitta Air (CKS/ K4) 14. AeroLogic (BOX /3S) 15. AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABW /RU) 16. Singapore Airlines (SIA /SQ) 17. Lufthansa (DLH/LH) 18. All Nippon Airways (ANA /NH) 19. EVA Air (EVA /BR) 20. United Airlines (UAL/ UA) 21. Asiana Airlines (AAR /OZ) 22. Ethiopian Airlines (ETH /ET) 23. Air France (AF/ AFR) 24. Etihad Airways (ETD /EY) 25. Polar Air Cargo (PAC /PO)