Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has honored Qatar Airways as its cargo airline of the year.
The recognition of the Middle Eastern carrier was announced as the airport doled out five separate honors at an awards luncheon March 20.
The airport moved 685,000 metric tons of cargo in 2017, up 6 percent in a year when domestic passenger growth was flat.
Hartsfield-Jackson may be tops in the world when it comes to passengers, processing nearly 104 million in 2017, but it has lagged other airports around the world in cargo. That’s something officials are trying to change, seeing cargo as immense untapped opportunity, given that freighters can land when the airport is largely dormant at night.
As of 2013, cargo had a $7 billion impact on the region and was responsible for more than 27,000 jobs. The airport has added six dedicated cargo carriers since 2015, according to an airport news release. The ATL website lists 18 carriers, many of them based overseas, including Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.
Qatar Airways is known more for its high-end cabins than the goods it carries under passengers’ feet as “belly cargo,” but the airline nonetheless grew cargo volumes through Atlanta by 13 percent in 2017.
Still, Delta Air Lines Inc., the hometown hub airline and Qatar’s bitter rival, was named Belly-Cargo Airline of the Year for its leadership in the category in Atlanta.
The luncheon, held in partnership with the Metro Atlanta Chamber and the Atlanta Air Cargo Association, honored five companies and one individual.
From the ATL news release:
Cargo Airline of the Year: Qatar Airways, which saw a 13 percent increase in metric tons of cargo through ATL;
Belly-Cargo Airline of the Year: Delta Air Lines, which generates the largest volume of belly cargo through ATL;
All-Cargo Airline of the Year: FedEx Express, which saw a 5 percent increase in metric tons of cargo through ATL;
Cargo Employee of the Year: Danielle Robinson, a Kintetsu World Express employee who has served the freight-forwarding company for 17 years;
Freight Forwarder of the Year: Kintetsu World Express, for its work at ATL;
Trucking Company of the Year: J&P Hall Express, for its work at ATL