In order to do it justice, finding one of the hubs of these cargo airlines is your best bet for catching up with the airliners in any significant numbers. Otherwise, only the odd example is usually seen on any particular day at a regular airport.
With that in mind, I thought I’d introduce five of the best airports in Europe for cargo spotting. I’ll follow it up with North America and Asia airports.
1. East Midlands, UK
A regional airport in the UK. It has grown into one of the major cargo airports in the country, with dedicated infrastructure such as handling facilities and aprons. East Midlands is a major hub for DHL, and also sees daily flights from Air Contractors, Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa Cargo, Star Air (Maersk), UPS, and other airlines.
2. Leipzig Halle, Germany
Another DHL hub, Leipzig recently took over the Continental Europe hub role from Brussels National. Most flights are in association with DHL, and include airlines such as Bluebird, Swiftair, Kalitta, Europe Air Post, Air Atlantique, ABX, RAF Avia, Aerologic, Aviastar. You’ll also see the odd Russian type, such as AN-24 and TU-204.
3. Liege, Belgium
A major cargo hub on the motorway network close to Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It is the main hub for TNT Airways, and also sees FedEx Express, Kalitta Air, Southern Air, Icelandair Cargo, Avient, Africa West Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.
4. Cologne/Bonn, Germany
Germany’s sixth largest airport, and also the main European hub for UPS. It’s large dedicated facilities can be observed from the viewing areas atop the passenger terminal opposite. Other airlines visiting include Lufthansa Cargo, FedEx Express, British Airways World Cargo, Cargojet, Farnair, Star Air (Maersk), and BlueBird Cargo.
5. Paris Charles de Gaulle, France
The busiest airport in France for passengers is also the busiest for cargo. Paris CDG is a major hub for FedEx Express, who have a base to the west of Terminal 1, and Air France Cargo. In addition, other cargo airlines serving the airport include Cathay Pacific Cargo, TNT Airways, UPS, China Airlines Cargo, and Europe Airpost.