Hong Hong HKIA Retains Crown as World’s Busiest Cargo Airport

View of Hong Kong International Airport skybridge.
Photo Credit: Lamb Ho/Airport Authority Hong Kong

Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has cemented its position as the global leader in air cargo for the 13th time since 2010.

According to recent data from the Airports Council International (ACI), HKIA processed a staggering 4.3 million tonnes of cargo in 2023.

HKIA Celebrates Continued Success

Jack So, Chairman of Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK), expressed his pride in this achievement. He highlighted HKIA’s “resilience, unparalleled efficiency and world-class cargo services” as key factors in securing the top spot.

Mr. So emphasized the crucial role air cargo plays in driving Hong Kong’s logistics industry and overall economic development. He pledged AAHK’s continued efforts to further solidify HKIA’s position as a premier cargo hub.

“Air cargo is a key driver of the growth of Hong Kong’s logistics industry and overall economic development.”

“AAHK shall continue to work tirelessly with our air cargo community to further strengthen HKIA’s competitiveness as a global cargo hub.”

A view over Hong Kong International Airport
Baycrest, CC BY-SA 2.5 , via Wikimedia Commons

Investing in the Future of Cargo

To ensure long-term capacity, HKIA is undergoing a significant expansion project – the Three-runway System (3RS). This ambitious project, targeted for completion by year-end, will equip the airport to handle a remarkable 10 million tonnes of cargo annually.

Recognizing the growing importance of high-value cargo segments, HKIA is strategically focusing on these areas.

Notably, HKIA holds the distinction of being the first airport worldwide to achieve the complete set of Center of Excellence for Independent Validators (CEIV) certifications from IATA.

An aerial view of Hong Kong International Airport
Wylkie Chan, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

This accomplishment demonstrates HKIA’s expertise in handling sensitive goods such as pharmaceuticals, perishables, live animals, and lithium batteries.

Furthermore, HKIA is capitalizing on the e-commerce boom by implementing various initiatives. The recent completion of the Cainiao Smart Gateway, developed by Alibaba’s logistics arm, signifies this commitment.

Additionally, the expansion of DHL’s Central Asia Hub and the upcoming establishment of a new United Parcel Service facility at HKIA further solidify the airport’s position as a key e-commerce logistics center.

HKIA Strengthens GBA Connectivity

HKIA has implemented a novel cargo sea-air trans-shipment operation to enhance connectivity with the Greater Bay Area (GBA).

This innovative model allows for security screening, palletization, and other services to be completed at the HKIA Dongguan Logistics Park before the cargo is shipped to HKIA for airfreight.

This streamlined process revolutionizes cargo trans-shipment and reinforces HKIA’s role as the GBA’s primary international cargo gateway.

A Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747 freighter aircraft on the ground.
Md Shaifuzzaman Ayon, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Cathay Cargo Acknowledges the Accolade

Cathay Cargo, Hong Kong’s home carrier for 77 years and the largest cargo operator at HKIA, also celebrates this achievement.

Tom Owen, Cathay’s Director Cargo, attributes the airport’s success to the “resilience, innovation and collaboration” within Hong Kong’s air cargo community.

He emphasizes Hong Kong’s position at the forefront of the global air cargo industry, backed by world-class infrastructure, expertise, and the expanding intermodal connectivity within the GBA.

Cathay Cargo’s ongoing investments in its fleet, network, cargo facilities, and digital and sustainability initiatives reflect their commitment to the long-term success of Hong Kong’s air cargo hub.

Last month, Hong Kong International Airport and Cathay Cargo hosted the IATA World Cargo Symposium.

One of the air cargo industry’s largest and most prestigious annual events, it was the first time the pair played host. The event achieved record attendance for an IATA event.

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By Len Varley - Assistant Editor 4 Min Read
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