Air cargo terminals built in recent years have raced ahead with robotics and intelligent warehouse automation, increasing their speed and efficiency while offering complete transparency in the movement of each item, and all in real-time. At the same time, advancements in cargo management systems mean that older and more established air cargo hubs can now be upgraded with minimal interruption to the cargo flow.
In this article, we have surfaced some of the most modern air cargo hubs in the world. The following list highlights not just the most newly built air freight hubs like COOL, but also cargo terminals that have upgraded existing facilities to meet the ever-increasing demands of a digitised, sustainable future and the relentless global demand for quality and speedy air cargo transport.
HAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CARGO TERMINAL – DOHA
The Qatar Airways cargo facility at Hamad International Airport (HIA) in Doha is one of the newest on our list and ranks as the world’s third largest international cargo hub. It has positioned itself as one of the premier gateways between East and West and has all the latest semi/fully automated systems expected of such a new facility. The new cargo handling facility opened on 1st December 2013 has the capacity to handle 1.4 million tonnes of cargo every year.
EMIRATES SKYCENTRAL AT AL MAKTOUM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT – DUBAI
Emirates SkyCentral at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) ranks up there as one of the world's most modern hubs. SkyCentral is situated at the Dubai World Central complex and it began operations in October 2014. It is home to Emirates' freighter fleet. Emirates also boasts a second state-of-the-art terminal called Cargo Mega Terminal, which is located 77km away at Dubai International Airport (DXB), home to Emirates' passenger aircraft.
MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CARGO HUB
Miami International Airport is the number one airport in the United States for international freight and fourth in the country for freight and mail combined. It is also the world's largest gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, handling 81% of all air imports and 78% of all exports to/from the region in 2017/18. To handle these volumes and maintain its leading position, a $5,917 million expansion project was completed at MIA in 2010 which included the construction of new storage and handling facilities for cargo. In 2017 MIA was named 'Best Freighter Hub' in the world in recognition of the recent innovations and enhancements at its cargo facility that have improved operations. Highlighted were a multi-million-dollar facility improvement programme at MIA in 2016 and its designation as a pharmaceutical freight hub by IATA.
BRUCARGO AT BRUSSELS AIRPORT
Brussels has been referred to as ‘Pharma Valley’ and this is in no small part down to BruCargo very successfully creating a pharma network community between airports, cargo suppliers and pharma companies. Brussels Airport stands out internationally for its dedicated infrastructure for the transport and handling of products, like pharmaceutical and biotech, that require an unbroken cold chain (video: Brussels cool chain success). In 2016 it became the first airport in the world to receive the IATA Excellence in Pharmaceutical Handling certificate and CEIV pharma retains its enormous relevance for the industry today.
SUPERTERMINAL1 AT HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) has been ranked as the world's busiest cargo airport since 1996 and SuperTerminal1 (HACTL), operated by Hong Air Cargo Terminals Limited and located at the southeast corner of the airport, is the world's second largest stand-alone air freight facility. It was designed by the firm of British architect, Sir Norman Foster, and built in 1998. At the time of build, it was said by Foster and Partners to have 2.5 times the capacity of its nearest rival, Heathrow airport.
Image: Foster and Partners
CARGOCITY – FRANKFURT
CargoCity located at Frankfurt Airport is the largest cargo hub in mainland Europe and it is divided into two sections, CargoCity South and CargoCity North. In 2017 it was the busiest European airport by cargo traffic. CargoCity South is a hub for global household names like DHL Global Forwarding, Air China, Emirates, Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Korean Air and Fraport Cargo Services, while CargoCity North is the HQ of Lufthansa Cargo, a perishables centre and the Frankfurt Animal Lounge, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018.
Image: Fraport AG
FINNAIR CARGO COOL NORDIC CARGO HUB AT HELSINKI AIRPORT
The COOL Nordic Cargo Hub is the newest air cargo terminal, opened in 2018 for full operations, and it has capitalised on the latest technology and automation to create a terminal widely considered by the air logistics industry to be the most advanced in Europe. COOL is Finnair Cargo’s crown jewel with respect of its ongoing efforts to dominate the East/West cargo link in the Northern Hemisphere and it is especially notable for its eco-friendly design, technology and processes. In fact, COOL is exceptional because it is one of only two air cargo terminals in the world to be rated ‘Very Good’ or better by world-renowned building sustainability assessors, BREEAM.