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CAPA - Centre for Aviation

  • Type: Aviation Suppliers

Cargo demand & supply: Qatar Airways reinforces global #1 position

Airlines have responded differently to the way that the pandemic has affected the demand for goods, to the changing nature of those goods, and the way that they are supplied. Several of them have risen to the challenge to a greater degree than others.

One of them is Qatar Airways, which was already the second largest cargo carrier by FTKs (2019). By being one of the first movers in converting passenger aircraft for full freighter operations and seeking out new markets, Qatar Airways has risen to be the leading airline in the world for cargo payload, with almost 10% of the total volume.

The following short report includes extracts from an interview with the company’s GCEO on CAPA Live and data from CAPA’s profiles on the airline.


  • Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Saudia are three airlines that have risen up the ranks of the leading cargo airlines during the pandemic. 
  • Cooperation between Qatar Airways and the Doha Hamad airport has helped position the airline as the leader. 
  • “We were the first to convert passenger aircraft for cargo purposes; everyone else copies us”, claims Akbar Al Baker, GCEO of Qatar Airways.
  • More dedicated freighters will be added, but the focus will return eventually to passenger operations, and all existing routes will be returned. 
  • The years 2023 and 2024 are peak delivery years for aircraft, especially the Boeing 777.
  • Cargo payload grew strongly in each of five of the past six years, and the 2020 reduction was only 11%.
  • Cargo capacity at the end of 2020 was a little more than two thirds of what it was in mid-Jan-2020.

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