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Airport & Seaport Directory FAQs
Looking to identify more ports in a specific area? Zoom in on a region or search for a specific city, state, or country to find their local airports (the airplane icon) and seaports (anchor icon). If you’ve already chosen air freight or ocean freight, you can narrow the search by unchecking ‘Airports’ or ‘Seaports’ on the top right of the map. If you’re only interested in seeing major global ports, simply tick the ‘Major ports only’ box.
- Country: These are standard country codes as assigned by the International Organization of Standardization. In the above example, the country, “China”, is specified with a “CN.”
- Port / Airport Identifier: These characters represent a location within the designated country. The above example identifies “Shenyang.” In countries such as the United States, where the number of possible three letter combinations has been exceeded, numerical digits are used.
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.
However, while bigger ports are necessary for certain shipping needs, there are multiple advantages to small and medium sized ports, as well:
- Smaller ports usually have close connections with their local city, which can mean easier access and other logistical advantages.
- Several smaller ports have adapted to some of the market challenges mentioned above by focusing on niche areas or goods, offering a competitive edge.
- The busiest ports in the world are usually ranked by cargo tonnage and volume of container shipment. However, while some local ports may rank low globally, they can in fact have significant scale and capacity when compared regionally.
Seaports can be broken down into two primary functions: cruise ports, for commercial passengers, and cargo ports. Cargo ports can then be further categorized as bulk or break bulk ports, which handle goods that need to be loaded in bulk or individually, and container ports, which handle any goods that need to be shipped in a container. Most cargo ports can handle all types of cargo, but it’s worth ensuring that you’re not dealing with a port that has specific regulations about what they can bring in.
Airports are also positioned to handle cargo operations. There are often specific infrastructures designated for cargo airlines to transfer parcels, and most international airports have cargo terminal facilities that store cargo before it is loaded/ picked up. Cargo terminals are divided into areas for export, import, interline, and transhipment to further facilitate air freight.
For more on key freight terms, check out our Freight Term Glossary.
Ultimately, deciding which one suits your shipping needs more will depend on personal requirements. What is your budget? How many goods are you shipping? How quickly does your shipment need to arrive?
Port location might also play a part in your decision, as the accessibility of the departure and destination ports will impact your freight costs. If there’s no nearby airport but there is a local harbor that handles cargo, you might reconsider your shipping route.
- Hong Kong International Airport, China; 4,411,193 metric tons
- Memphis International Airport, USA; 4,258,530 metric tons
- Shanghai Pudong International Airport, China; 3,181,635 metric tons
- Incheon International Airport, South Korea; 2,557,680 metric tons
- Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, USA; 2,482,153 metric tons
- Dubai International Airport, United Arab Emirates; 2,367,574 metric tons
- Louisville International Airport, USA; 2,293,134 metric tons
- Narita International Airport, Japan; 2,132,377 metric tons
- Frankfurt Airport, Germany; 2,132,132 metric tons
- Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan; 2,008,727 metric tons
- Shanghai, China; 33.62 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit)
- Singapore; 32.63 million TEUs
- Shenzhen, China; 23.28 million TEUS
- Hong Kong, S.A.R., China; 22.35 million TEUs
- Busan, South Korea; 17.69 million TEUs
- Ningbo-Zhousan, China; 17.33 million TEUs
- Qindao, China; 15.52 million TEUs
- Guangzhou Harbor, China; 15.31 million TEUs
- Jebel Ali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; 13.64 million TEUs
- Tianjin, China; 13.01 million TEUs