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World Airport Code Finder

 
Use This Airport Code Tool To Find UN/LOCODEs to find the nearest airport to your shipping origin or destination.

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How Do I Use The World Airport Codes & Airport Code Finder?

This airport code locator is more useful than looking up an international airport codes list. If you know how to find a location on Google Maps, you basically know how to use this locator. Input the name of the airport, airport code, or city name to search.  You can find more information, including port code, by clicking on the pins.

The map includes both airports and seaports, should you need to work out which port is the closest to a specific location. Zoom in on a specific area, for instance, a city, state or country, to see how many airports (airplane icon) and seaports (anchor icon) there are, and their location in relation to each other.  Tailor the search by unchecking ‘Airports’ or ‘Seaports’ on the top right of the map.

Go to the following resource if you would rather find out more about seaports and their codes.
 

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What Are Airport Codes?

Airport codes are identifiers that make international and domestic trade and transport work. In fact, every airport, seaport, and inland transfer port has its unique code. These port codes are nearly universally used by air cargo carriers and freight forwarders.

It is mandatory on many key freight documents, to specify the main transit’s port of origin and port of destination by their port codes.

 

How Are World Airport Codes Assigned?

The United Nations has long played a role in establishing and refining an international coding system for ports.  This information is kept and controlled by a  massive database of over 103,030 locations in 249 countries called UN/LOCODE (United Nations Code for Trade and Transport Locations).

Sometimes called a 5 country code, airport and seaport codes, are made up of five characters but only the first two characters are letters and are the country code as assigned by the International Organization of Standardization. The last three characters specify the particular port. They are usually letters too, but for countries with many ports sometimes numbers are used as well. To show how this all comes together, Los Angeles seaport code is USLAX, with US standing for the United States and LAX representing the port.

 

So Why Are World Airport Codes Only Three Letters?

Most airports around the world are designated with a code by IATA (International Air Transport Association), an organization that standardizes air passenger travel and air cargo shipment across global airlines. Nearly every aspect of international flight operations, including airline name, currency, aircraft type, cargo standards, Hazmat regulations, regional delineations, and even meal choice, is standardized with an IATA code.

Check your baggage claim ticket. Their three-letter airport codes, also known as location identifiers or airport identifiers, are used in airline timetables, passenger reservations, ticketing, and baggage-handling systems at the largest airports in the world. IATA airport codes are usually derived from the name of the airport, or the city in which the airport is located.

When possible, the IATA airport abbreviation for a specific location is used as the last three characters of the UN/LOCODE. For simplicity, airports are more commonly referred by their 3-letter IATA code, while seaports are assigned the full 5-character code.

And just in case you’ve seen a four-digit port code and wondered where that comes from, that’s probably the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) code. For instance, CBP’s code for Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s is 5501.

 

When Will I Need An Airport, And When Will I Need A Seaport?

There are pros and cons with selecting between air freight and ocean freight.

The most obvious pro is that air freight has a much shorter transit time. It’s also more reliable. For smaller shipments (roughly under about 500 kg) it is also cheaper too.

The biggest con is that larger shipments cost a lot more to go by air than sea.  Other negative factors include more products being classified as restricted cargo on planes than ships, and that sending shipments by air has a much greater carbon footprint.

One factor that might be important is port location.  If the addresses for pickup and delivery are conveniently located to airports, for instance, but not seaports, that might tilt the balance toward selecting air freight.

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What Are The World’s Ten Busiest Airports For Cargo?

The busiest airports in the world according to cargo traffic loaded/ unloaded annually are:

  1. Hong Kong International Airport, China; 4,411,193 metric tons
  2. Memphis International Airport, USA; 4,258,530 metric tons
  3. Shanghai Pudong International Airport, China; 3,181,635 metric tons
  4. Incheon International Airport, South Korea; 2,557,680 metric tons
  5. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, USA; 2,482,153 metric tons
  6. Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates; 2,367,574 metric tons
  7. Louisville International Airport, USA; 2,293,134 metric tons
  8. Narita International Airport, Japan; 2,132,377 metric tons
  9. Frankfurt Airport, Germany; 2,132,132 metric tons
  10. Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan; 2,008,727 metric tons

 

The World's Largest Cargo Airports

 

 


 

For more helpful freight tools and calculators, check out our freight rate calculatorfreight class calculator, and chargeable weight calculator. And don’t forget to check out our ultimate guide to choosing a freight forwarder.