Cargo airline

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Cargo airlines (or airfreight carriers, and derivatives of these names) are airlines dedicated to the transport of cargo by air. Some cargo airlines are divisions or subsidiaries of larger passenger airlines.


Air transport is a vital component of many international logistics networks, essential to managing and controlling the flow of goods, energy, information and other resources like products, services, and people, from the source of production to the marketplace. It is difficult or nearly impossible to accomplish any international trading, global export/import processes, international repositioning of raw materials/products and manufacturing without a professional logistical support. It involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging. The operating responsibility of logistics is the geographical repositioning of raw materials, work in process, and finished inventories where required at the lowest cost possible.[1][unreliable source?]

Aircraft used[edit]

Larger cargo airlines tend to use new or recently built aircraft to carry their freight, but many use older aircraft, like the Boeing 707, Boeing 727, Douglas DC-8, DC-10, MD-11, Boeing 747, and the Ilyushin Il-76. Examples of the 60-year-old Douglas DC-3 are still flying around the world carrying cargo (as well as passengers). Short range turboprop airliners such as the An-12, An-26, Fokker Friendship, and British Aerospace ATP are now being modified to accept standard air freight pallets to extend their working lives. This normally involves the replacement of glazed windows with opaque panels, the strengthening of the cabin floor and insertion of a broad top-hinged door in one side of the fuselage.

The An-225, world's largest aircraft, also used by a cargo airline.

Antonov An-225 Mriya and Antonov An-124 are the worlds' largest aircraft, used for transporting large shipments and oversized cargos.

Usage of large military airplanes for commercial purposes, pioneered by Ukraine's Antonov Airlines in the 1990s, has allowed new types of cargo in aerial transportation.

In the past, some cargo airlines would carry a few passengers from time to time on flights,[citation needed] and UPS Airlines once unsuccessfully tried a passenger charter airline division. However, cargo planes in the United States are strictly forbidden from carrying non-employee passengers.[2][citation needed]

Top 10 cargo airlines[edit]

By freight tonne-kilometres flown (millions):[3]

Rank Airline 2013
1 United States FedEx Express 16,127
2 United States UPS Airlines 10,584
3 United Arab Emirates Emirates SkyCargo 10,459
4 Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Cargo 8,241
5 South Korea Korean Air Cargo 7,666
6 Germany Lufthansa Cargo 7,218
7 Singapore Singapore Airlines Cargo 6,240
8 Luxembourg Cargolux 5,225
9 Qatar Qatar Airways Cargo 4,972
10 Taiwan China Airlines Cargo 4,813
European Air Transport (EAT) Airbus A300B4F. EAT is a subsidiary of DHL Aviation, one of the world's largest cargo airline companies.
UPS Worldport Air Hub at Louisville International Airport.


Some of these companies have stopped operating or have been merged into other carriers.

All-cargo subsidiary[edit]

Freight divisions of passenger airlines operating their own or leased freighter aircraft, some shut down or merged with others.

Loading a Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747 from the front.

Freight divisions without fleet using passenger aircraft belly hold or having other cargo airlines fly on their behalf, some of these previously had freighters:

These carriers operate freighter aircraft but do not have a cargo division:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bartsch, Butsri (24 May 2013). "Air freight - it could not be faster!". BB Handel. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "Passengers And Crew On Cargo Aircraft". Federal Aviation Administration. 21 January 2004. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  3. ^

External links[edit]