A new study by freight supplier CP Cases has revealed the current status of Europe’s cargo hubs and the airports that have been growing fastest in the sector. It has revealed some interesting examples of up and coming airports set to grow in dominance in the freight market.

The study ranks airports by their total tonnage of freight carried in a year, their year-on-year increase over the past year, and over the past five and 10 years.

Obvious and well-known freight hubs naturally feature in the list when ranked by total tonnage — airports like Frankfurt, London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam Schiphol. Because of the huge amount of belly cargo carried through passenger aircraft at these hubs, few of the dedicated cargo airports can compete with their capacity.

However, a number of smaller airports rank highly in different categories, which is quite unexpected and could indicate the future places to watch as their cargo business develops.

Beauvais-Tillé — considered the fourth airport of Paris, some 60 miles north of the city — is the fastest growing freight and mail airport in Europe. It has registered a 25,600% growth over the past five years, and a staggering 51,300% over the past year. The airport, which is a low-cost hub for the likes of Ryanair and Wizz Air, is thought to be witnessing this growth through belly cargo rather than dedicated freighters.

Image: CP Cases

Looking at which countries are the fastest growing over the past decade, Spain ranked top overall, suggesting an ongoing trend away from more traditional freight airports. This is thanks mostly to the growth at Valladolid Airport in the northwest of the country, which has developed alongside more established freight and mail airports at Madrid Barajas and Zaragoza.

After Spain, Eastern European airports are leading the pack in overall increase in freight carried over the past decade, thanks to the growth in low-cost air travel to these destinations. Airports such as Burgas in Bulgaria, Cluj Napoca and Timisoara in Romania, and Riga in Lativa all rank in the top 10.

Fiona Haggerty, commercial director of CP Cases, said: “Knowing the logistics map both of Europe and for the international market plays a large part in what we do at CP Cases.” She added: “While we still see products being utilised to transport equipment to the major freight hubs in Europe, we’ve noticed that some key new players are becoming increasingly popular, providing a more localised option for freight logistics.”

Surprisingly, the United Kingdom does not feature as highly as expected in the study. While London Heathrow naturally handles a lot of belly freight and some dedicated freighters, the country’s second-busiest cargo airport at East Midlands only ranks 14th in total tonnage, behind continental rivals Leipzig/Halle, Cologne/Bonn and Liege, and with a 7% increase over the past year.

CP Cases, which conducted the study using EU and CAA data sources, is a provider of custom flight cases for air cargo and freight. Its interest in perfecting their product for the freight market has led to this in-depth research into where the market in freight airports is developing.