Air Freight

Our air freight carriers are dedicated to transporting your goods world-wide. If you need to move items urgently airfreight is the fastest solution.


Our most popular Air Freight services are:

:: Box & Parcels
:: Pallets & Crates
:: Commercial Cargo
:: Documents & Paperwork
:: Personal and Household Effects

Air freight is used to manage and control the flow of goods worldwide, including manufacturing from the source of production to the marketplace, or simply from one person to another,

If you would like Airfreight to transport your goods by air freight, please click get a quote.


Air Freights and Airports

Air freight is essential to the modern world. It underpins economic development on a global scale 1 and creates many millions of jobs. It is used to transport $6 trillion of industrial, consumer and personal items including parcels, boxes, pallets, containers, and vehicles and even provides next day delivery worldwide. Regarding value, globally the amount transported accounts for 35% of world trade; and in the UK it accounts for 38% of our trade with the rest of the world. Every year we send 328 billion letters and 7.4 billion parcels globally. However, airfreight accounts for less than 1% of global trade by volume.

The goods we ship by airfreight are changing, and that change is being driven in no small extent by e-commerce. We now send twice as many parcels as we did a decade ago 1. Retailers need to deliver to their customers quickly wherever in the world they are located. There is continual pressure to reduce costs and provide customers with good end to end tracking visibility of their goods, and instant notifications.

So how does this all pan out in the UK? Indeed, it keeps the cargo facilities at many UK airports busy. The distribution of airfreight across UK airports is hugely uneven, with the main players handling most of the volume. Here we drill down to the fine detail.

The busiest air freight airports


By tonnage transported, the busiest cargo airport in the UK is Heathrow which in 2017 handled over 1.69 million tonnes of airfreight. However, on a global scale, Heathrow is just the 19th largest; it is almost dwarfed by Hong Kong International, the largest airfreight handler worldwide which handled over 4.6 million tonnes during the same period.

But Heathrow cargo has big plans for the future; it aims to become the best European cargo airport and to increase its freight volume to 3 million tonnes a year by 2040 2, assuming that it is successful in building a third runway.

Currently, 36.4% of Heathrow’s cargo volume is with North America, 19.9% with East Asia, 15.6% with the Middle East and Central Asia, and 9.3% with Europe. Africa and South Asia are also significant players.

East Midlands International

After Heathrow, the second busiest UK cargo airport is East Midlands International 3, which handles around 0.32 million tonnes a year. It serves as the UK DHL and UPS hubs and provides operations for Royal Mail and TNT.


London Stansted Airport and Manchester Airport

London Stansted Airport is the UK’s third largest airfreight operator and handles around 0.24 million tonnes a year. Manchester Cargo is about half the size handling with 0.12 million tonnes a year.


All UK Cargo Airports

Even though most of the airfreight entering and leaving the UK is handled by the four airports mentioned above, the role of the smaller players should not be underestimated. Each of them is an essential node in both the UK and global airfreight networks handling all forms of airfreight including vital services such as freight forwarding and next day delivery worldwide. Table 1 below lists every UK airport airfreight player 4.

UK Airports by Freight Tonnage Handled in 2017
Heathrow 1,698,460.908
East Midlands International 324,216.092
Stansted 236,891.775
Manchester 120,181.422
Gatwick 96,982.582
Birmingham 41,803.276
Luton 21,026.612
Edinburgh 20,658.917
Glasgow 15,934.543
Belfast International 12,308.48
Prestwick 11,392.594
Doncaster Sheffield 8,657.25
Aberdeen 5,870.333
Newcastle 5,481.735
Jersey 1,303.594
Guernsey 1,223.072
Scatsta 490.176
Norwich 332.117
Sumburgh 329.426
Belfast City (George Best) 316.733
Islay 267.821
Isle of Man 212.161
Southampton 200.213
Stornoway 164.772
Liverpool (John Lennon) 122.949
Alderney 99.845
Humberside 93.127
Lands End (St Just) 70.1
London City 64.689
Isles Of Scilly (St.Marys) 60.2
Kirkwall 35.054
Leeds Bradford 14.518
Barra 13.83
Newquay 11.98
Tiree 11.937
Bristol 9.852
Exeter 6.801
Benbecula 4.426
Durham Tees Valley 4.27
Cardiff Wales 3.951
Campbeltown 0.266


These figures show freight carried by Heathrow is 64.7% of total freight and dwarfs the contributions made by the other 41 airports. In fact, the top four airports carry over 90% of all airfreight in the UK.

Dedicated cargo planes or belly hold passenger aircraft?

As we describe in another article, airfreight is carried by either dedicated cargo planes or in the belly hold of passenger planes. Different cargo airports have different policies regarding this, for instance, Stanstead airfreight is carried exclusively by dedicated cargo aircraft and at Gatwick entirely by passenger aircraft.

Table 2 shows total freight broken down in that carried by these two methods.  As you can see, Heathrow carries most freight transported by passenger aircraft, while East Midland International carries most of the freight transported by cargo aircraft.


UK Airports by Freight Type 2017
AIRPORT Freight by passenger aircraft Freight by cargo aircraft
  Heathrow 1,601,563.342 96,897.566
  East Midlands International 0.135 324,215.957
  Stansted 0 236,891.775
  Manchester 113,113.241 7068.181
  Gatwick 96,982.582 0
  Birmingham 25,424.202 16,379.074
  Luton 191.535 20,835.077
  Edinburgh 231.579 20,427.338
  Glasgow 15,002.093 932.45
  Belfast International 2.753 12,305.727
  Prestwick 0.874 11,391.72
  Doncaster Sheffield 7.034 8,650.216
  Aberdeen 1726.512 4143.821
  Newcastle 4,974.574 507.161
  Jersey 201.743 1,101.851
  Guernsey 240.815 982.257
  Scatsta 490.176 0
  Norwich 332.117 0
  Sumburgh 328.491 0.935
  Belfast City (George Best) 316.733 0
  Islay 267.744 0.077
  Isle of Man 110.457 101.704
  Southampton 192.902 7.311
  Stornoway 163.823 0.949
  Liverpool (John Lennon) 104.069 18.88
  Alderney 96.783 3.062
  Humberside 83.974 9.153
  Lands End (St Just) 48 22.1
  London City 64.689 0
  Isles Of Scilly (St.Marys) 40.7 19.5
  Kirkwall 34.682 0.372
  Leeds Bradford 14.518 0
  Barra 13.683 0.147
  Newquay 11.98 0
  Tiree 11.913 0.024
  Bristol 9.852 0
  Exeter 0.001 6.8
  Benbecula 4.426 0
  Durham Tees Valley 0.001 4.269
  Cardiff Wales 3.951 0



In this article, we have provided a great deal of detailed data on airfreight and airports. While not all of it might be directly relevant to you, we hope that it gives a good overview of the state of airfreight in the UK. Globally, the UK is a significant player in this field, and our contribution is poised to grow.  Whether you are seeking to send or receive a box, parcel, or pallet or take advantage of next day delivery worldwide, airfreight will be a vital growth engine 5 in our post-Brexit world.