John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York-Air Freight Gateway

John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York-Air Freight Gateway

John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York was the nation's busiest international air freight gateway by value of shipments in 2008. It was the third busiest overall by value when compared with all U.S. air, land, and sea freight gateways.

In 2008, 21 percent of the value of all U.S. international air freight moved through JFK (table 1). About $168 billion worth of merchandise trade passed through JFK in 2008, an increase of 4 percent from $161 billion in 2007. By value, exports in the same period grew 11 percent, and imports fell 2 percent (USDOC CB 2009b).1 By weight, JFK ranked third among all air gateways, handling 10 percent of U.S. international air freight tonnage (table 1).2 It handled more than 900,000 tons of international air cargo in 2008, down 7 percent from 2007 (table 2).

Machinery and electrical machinery were the top two commodities imported through JFK in 2007, the most recent year for which detailed commodity information is available. They were followed by woven and knit apparel. Major commodities exported through JFK included machinery, electrical machinery, and optical/medical instruments.

JFK serves as a major hub for movement of bidirectional air freight between the United States and Europe. In 2008, the top three JFK origin-destination trade-route pairs on nonstop segments were in Europe: London, Brussels, and Luxembourg (table 4). However, information on the actual markets from which goods are imported and to which goods are exported shows that most of the markets were actually in Asia and that Europe's hub airports were only links in the global supply-chain. In 2008, the top origin markets for merchandise imports through JFK were Seoul, Taipei, London, and Hong Kong.3 Similarly, the top destination markets for merchandise exports from JFK were London, Seoul, and Tokyo. Eighty-five air carriers operate out of JFK. In 2008, the top carriers for air freight by weight were American Airlines, Cargolux Airlines, World Airways, and British Airways (table 5).

For several years, JFK ranked as the number one gateway in the country by value of international merchandise trade. In 2003, however, it fell behind the maritime Port of Los Angeles, and in 2008, it fell behind the maritime Port of New York and New Jersey.

1 The 2007 data used in this comparison are not presented in table 1. The data are available online in the gateways database at

2 Ranking of air gateways by weight is available in table 9 of this report's overview section.

3 This information is based on Form 41 International Market Data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, Office of Airline Information. Origin-destination airport-pair data by value are not available from the merchandise trade data. See box 2, page 15, for further discussion of segment and market data.