You are here

Cargo traffic

The Milan airport system ranks 1st in Italy and 5th in Europe by freight traffic volumes. In 2018, cargo traffic managed at Malpensa and Linate totalled 569,000 tonnes, decreasing by over 19,000 tons (-3.3% at system level and -3.2% at Malpensa).

Ranking of the main European airports / airport systems by volumes of goods - 2018 (‘000 tons)


Goods in transit are not considered.
Source: SEA, ACI Europe

2018’s cargo traffic reflected the general slowdown in the Italian market after the previous year’s exceptional performance. Linate results (representing 1.9% of the airport system’s freight traffic) were influenced by the negative results of the main player TNT (-6.2%), in addition to Alitalia (-12.2%) and Aer Lingus (-39.0%). At Malpensa, exports, accounting for 59.0% of the total traffic, recorded a decline of 4.8%. The decline in imports was more contained (-0.8%), remaining approximately stable with the previous year’s volumes. Malpensa results were negatively affected by the suspension of Nippon Cargo’s activity from mid-June to early October, due to internal safety procedures causing the grounding of the entire fleet, and by the reduction in Etihad Cargo’s activity due to a reduction in its freighter fleet and the revision of network. The Cargolux group recorded a drop in transported freight and frequencies to New York and China, though its results were positive overall due to the consolidation of yields in the last few months of last year. There are a growing number of other major cargo players continuing to invest in Malpensa: Qatar, Airbridge, Saudia Cargo, Cathay, Turkish. In the courier segment, DHL continued to show excellent growth, and started the construction of its new warehouse in September, expected to be operational by mid-2020. Meanwhile Fedex recorded negative results due for a labour dispute impacting operations in May and June. Positive results also came from freight on passengers’ flights through Malpensa, which saw a growth of 4.5% due to wide body hold capacity increases by Qatar, Air Italy, Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways. The reduction in cargo traffic for Malpensa is exclusively due to the negative trend of the all-cargo carriers (-6.0%); by contrast, airlines that use aircraft in mixed configuration posted growth of 4.5%. Reduced flights by Cargolux (-15.8%) and Etihad Airways, as the main carriers, which suspended flights in the first three months of 2018 and reduced the number of flights operated for the rest of the year (-86.8%), resulted in the reduction in cargo processed during 2018.

Cargo traffic managed by the Milan airport system (000’s tons)


Source: SEA

For belly traffic (freight transported on passenger flights), the main carriers exhibiting growth are: Qatar Airways (+36.8%, with 5.8 thousand incremental tons), and Air Italy with new connections launched in 2018 moving 4.2 thousand tons, as the second carrier in terms of incremental freight quantities. 

Malpensa – Arriving and departing cargo on all flights (cargo and passenger) (tons)

  2018 2017 2018 2017 2018 2017
Arriving 149,698 155,687 78,971 74,834 228,670 230,521
Departing 246,132 265,441 83,416 80,576 329,548 346,017
Total cargo 395,830 421,128 162,388 155,410 558,218 576,538

Source: SEA

Linate – Arriving and departing cargo on all flights (cargo and passenger) (tons)

  2018 2017 2018 2017 2018 2017
Arriving 4,714 4,642 683 815 5,397 5,457
Departing 4,272 5,108 1,159 1,372 5,431 6,480
Total cargo 8,986 9,750 1,842 2,187 10,828 11,937

Source: SEA

The cargo traffic served by the SEA managed airports reports a significant variance between final destination areas.

Malpensa - Distribution of cargo traffic by geographical area of destination

Middle East 32.0 29.5 28.8
Europe 26.7 25.3 25.5
Far East 24.8 27.9 27.2
North America 14.0 14.4 15.1
Africa 1.6 1.3 0.9
Central and South America 0.9 1.6 2.5

Source: SEA

The operational complexity which defines the cargo activities at Malpensa (as is the case for the major European hubs), and the range of operators combining in an integrated manner, contributing to the end result expected of those delivering and receiving, has led SEA to draw up values and quality objectives for the principle parameters concerning the handling of cargo processes at the airports.

Therefore, Malpensa airport decided to adopt a Cargo Services Charter, in order to:

  • define performance and quality levels which satisfy the expectations of operators utilizing the cargo assistance services;
  • ensure SEA the availability of a regulation and control system for the cargo services provided at the airport, in order to guarantee the quality of the final result.