All-cargo hubs climb up the list of Europe’s busiest airports

By Damian Brett

Leipzig Halle Airport aerial view 2018

Freighter hubs have climbed their way up the list of Europe’s busiest airports over recent weeks due to the number of all-cargo movements staying flat compared with a reduction in passenger flights as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.

The latest statistics from Eurocontrol show that the drop in demand for passenger services has seen all-cargo hubs, such as Leipzig/Halle and East Midlands in the UK, break into the top-20 airports in terms of the number of flights handled.

Last week, Leipzig/Halle was ranked as Europe’s fourth busiest airport whereas a year earlier it was ranked at number 68; East Midlands in the UK has jumped from 74 to 13; Milan Malpensa is up from 21 to 12; Cologne-Bonn has improved from 35 to eight; and Stansted is up from 24 to 19.

Frankfurt, the home of Lufthansa’s freighter operation, also performed better than some of its large rivals, jumping from fourth position to the top spot.

Additionally, Eurocontrol statistics show that this time last year, all- cargo flights accounted for about 2% of total departures and arrivals, whereas now they account for around 20%.

The number of all-cargo flights is also roughly the same as last year, Eurocontrol said.

Other airports have also moved up the list, although this is not necessarily down to all-cargo movements as other types of flights have also performed better than passenger operations.

For example, helicopter flights to oil rigs and public service flights to remote locations (such as in Norway or on islands) have generally not dropped as much as other flights.

Other airports to enter the top 20 are: Oslo, Bergen, Athens, Stavanger and Stockholm.

Eurocontrol stats show that freighter operators also performed well during the week. DHL Express was the busiest operator with an average of 167 movements per day, followed by Widerøe (154), Lufthansa (92), SAS (80) and Qatar (76).


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