While the impact of the global recession has still been apparent in the Middle East airfreight sector, the region has started to experience a healthy upswing in cargo volumes over the past year. Based on the official 2009 statistics of Airports Council International (ACI), we present the latest edition of our Top 10 Airfreight Hubs in the Middle East.
1. Dubai International Airport
Supported by the emirate's growing reputation as a Middle Eastern superhub for cargo operations, Dubai International Airport was able to weather the global downturn better than the majority of its counterparts around the world, handling close to 2 million tonnes of cargo in 2009. This marks an increase of 5.6% compared to the previous year's figures. Hosting the passenger and cargo services for over 40 airlines, DXB airport is the main hub for airlines such as Emirates, FlyDubai, Palm Aviation, Royal Jet and Dubai Royal Air Wing.
2. Sharjah International Airport
Climbing to the second position and yet another entry for the United Arab Emirates, Sharjah International Airport has steadily continued to develop its share of the Middle East airfreight market over the years and 2009 was not an exception. Despite the challenges presented from a global recession, the airport handled 421,398 tonnes of cargo in total last year, marking a double-digit increase of 16.1% compared to the previous year.
3. Abu Dhabi International Airport
Operated by Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Abu Dhabi International Airport is the second largest airport in the United Arab Emirates and one of the fastest growing in the region. A hub for Etihad Airlines, the airport is served by over 30 international and regional airlines. A total of 382,523 tonnes of cargo was handled in 2009, according to Airports Council International (ACI), which marks a healthy increase of 7.4% over the previous year.
4. Bahrain International Airport
Operated by the department of Civil Aviation Affairs, Bahrain International Airport is the main gateway to the Kingdom of Bahrain. Hosting passenger and cargo traffic from over 30 regional and international carriers, Bahrain International Airport is the main hub for airlines including Gulf Air and Bahrain Air. It is also a regional base for logistics heavyweight DHL. The facility, which was nudged out of the top three by Abu Dhabi International Airport, handled 342,724 tonnes of cargo in 2009, a decrease of 6.9% over the previous year.
5. King Abdulaziz International Airport
King Abdulaziz International Airport is the gateway to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and one of largest airports in the region. Hosting regional and international passenger and cargo services for over 30 airlines, the airport is the major hub for Saudi Arabian Airlines. Between January and October 2009, the airport handled 173,630 tonnes of cargo, which marks a decrease of 4.6% over the same period in 2008.
6. King Khalid International Airport
Operated by Fraport Saudi Arabia Ltd, King Khalid International Airport is the international gateway to Riyadh and marks Saudi Arabia's second entry in the top 10. Hosting passenger and cargo services for over 30 airlines, the airport is a major hub for Saudi Arabian Airlines, Nas Air and Sama. It handled 168,687 tonnes of cargo in total between January and October 2009, marking a double-digital decrease of 11.2% compared to the same period in 2008.
7. Kuwait International Airport
Kuwait International Airport is located in Farwiniyah and is the main gateway to Kuwait City. Hosting regional and international passenger and cargo services for over 25 airlines, the airport is a hub for Kuwait Airways, Jazeera Airways, Wataniya Airways and LoadAir. A total of 197,984 cargo tonnes was handled at the airport in 2009, a solid increase of 9.9% compared to the previous year.
8. Queen Alia International Airport
Queen Alia International Airport is Jordan's largest airport. It is the home hub of Royal Jordanian Airlines, the oneworld aligned national flag carrier, as well as being a major destination for Jazeera Airways, Gulf Air and Jordan Aviation. Cargo volumes were down in 2009 at the airport, with 82,183 tonnes being handled last year - a decrease of 5.8% compared to figures in 2008.
9. Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport
Lebanon makes its first and only appearance in the top 10 at number nine. The country's flagship Rafic Hariri International Airport in Beirut is Lebanon's biggest airport facility, which saw a 5.8% increase in cargo throughput last year, reaching a total of 72,589 tonnes in total.
10. King Fahd International Airport
King Fahd International Airport in Dammam has slipped down the list of top Middle Eastern airfreight hubs this year, with 55,627 tonnes of cargo being handled between January and October 2009. Although the figure is respectable, it also marks a considerable decrease of 32.1% compared to the same period in 2008.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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