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The world's airports – the state of the industry in Jan-2023 in 11 numbers

Analysis

Earlier in Jan-2023 CAPA published a report summarising the state of the world’s airlines “in 15 numbers”. The airport business does not have quite the same propensity for mathematical evaluation, but the figures below, which are offered “in 11 numbers,” will be of interest all the same.

Perhaps the most impressive numerical statistic is that passengers boarded at the world’s airports in 2022 amounted to 83% of the 2019 figure, despite the ravages of the pandemic.

Things are definitely looking up, but as Stephen Carter, CEO of Informa plc (CAPA’s parent company), said this week, “If the last few years have taught us anything, it is that we should not take anything for granted... the world outside us remains uncertain, economically and geopolitically, causing pressures and strains in many countries and for many communities”.

Note data on cargo airports has been omitted as reliable statistics and sources remain at a premium for 2022/23. A report on that sector will follow. Data on subjective matters such as ‘airport quality’ were also overlooked.

Summary

  • There were 3.8 billion passengers boarded at the world’s airports in 2022.
  • Atlanta the #1 for passenger traffic, at 85.8 million.
  • In Jan-2023 Atlanta also has the greatest overall seat capacity, marginally ahead of Dubai.
  • But Dubai ranks first for international capacity.
  • Only two cities managed more than 100 million passengers in 2022.
  • There are 425 major construction projects at existing airports worldwide, with USD450 billion in investment.
  • There are 225 new airport projects, and more than 70% of the investment is in Asia Pacific.
  • There are 1074 airport investors known to CAPA, of which 258 are airport operators, groups or consortiums.
  • More than 440 airports globally have been certified by ACI (Airports Council International) under its carbon accreditation scheme, in six categories. 

Number 1: the number of passengers boarded at airports in 2022 vs. three previous years

3.8 billion passengers in 2022 – 83% of the 2019 total

(2022): 3,781,000,000

(2021): 2,185,000,000

(2020): 1,807,000,000

(2019): 4,543,000,000

Number 2: the top 10 airports by passenger traffic in 2022

85.8 million – Atlanta resumes its #1 position

This is a sneak peek at a likely outcome, as few airports have yet revealed full year 2022 statistics formally.

In the table below actual figures publicly available dictate the position, irrespective of whether they are for the full year or only part of it (the period is specified in the table and one is a corporate estimate), so there will be some changes.

US airports have five of the Top 10, with Europe accounting for four and the Middle East one.

In 2021 US airports had eight of the Top 10, including the first seven; indicative of there being fewer impediments to travel there during the COVID pandemic.

Atlanta once again cemented its top spot.

Asia Pacific has fallen off the radar altogether, especially China, but that will now change dramatically since it has ‘reopened.’

The top Asia Pacific airport by this measure is likely to be Tokyo Haneda, which handled 44,146,000 passengers in the first 11 months of 2022.

In Latin America the highest passenger figure achieved was 46,259,000 at Mexico City Juarez Airport.

In a small number of cases it was not possible to ascertain figures, for example Delhi International Airport, but that is unlikely to influence the outcome.

Worldwide airports: ranked by passenger numbers, 2022

Rank

Airport

Passenger numbers 2022

Period

1

Atlanta, US

85,775,000

Jan-Nov 2022

2

Dallas-Fort Worth, US

67,060,000

Jan-Nov 2022

3

Istanbul, Türkiye

64,486,000

Jan-Nov 2022

4

Dubai International, UAE

64,300,000

Corporate estimate. (44, 456,000 in Q1-Q3 2022)

5

Denver, US

63,613,000

Jan-Nov 2022

6

Chicago O’Hare, US

62,629,000

Jan-Nov 2022

7

London Heathrow, UK

61,599,000

Jan-Dec 2022

8

Los Angeles International, US

60,146,000

Jan-Nov 2022

9

Amsterdam, Netherlands

52,742,000

Jan-Dec 2022

10

Paris Ch de Gaulle, France

52,389,000

Jan-Nov 2022

Number 3: the 10 busiest airports by global seat capacity (international and domestic), Jan-2023

4.7 million – Atlanta (again) has the highest overall seat capacity in Jan-2023 (just)

Unsurprisingly, there is not a great deal of difference between the table above and that of the 10 busiest airports for both international and domestic seat capacity in Jan-2023, except that in this instance Europe is excluded – apart from Istanbul and London Heathrow, and Delhi does make an appearance.

Both London Heathrow and Tokyo Haneda are climbing up the table towards the positions they occupied before the COVID pandemic.

The biggest jumps are at Dallas-Fort Worth, up from #17 in Jan-2019 to #5 now, and Denver, up from #23 to #6.

In tandem with their ranking in the passenger statistics for 2022, that suggests that they will be a regular feature in these tables henceforth.

DFW is in a state where there is considerable population growth, but both airports are primary hubs, which may be more relevant.

Worldwide airports:  the ten busiest, by seats, ranking in Jan-2023 compared with 2019

Rank

Airport

Seats, Jan-2023

Ranking in Jan- 2019

1

Atlanta, US

4,679,398

2

2

Dubai International, UAE

4,624,009

3

3

Tokyo Haneda, Japan

4,171,837

4

4

London Heathrow, UK

3,782,327

6

5

Dallas-Fort Worth, US

3,670,500

17

6

Denver, US

3,588,688

23

7

Istanbul, Türkiye

3,577,323

19

8

Delhi, India

3,564,812

14

9

Los Angeles International, US

3,448,215

5

10

Chicago O’Hare, US

3,333,628

9

Number 4: the 10 busiest airports by global seat capacity (international only), Jan-2023

4.7 million – Dubai has the highest international seat capacity in Jan-2023

One almost expects Dubai International to occupy the #1 slot in a table of the busiest airports by international seat capacity only in Jan-2023, a title it won back in 2022 – and it does, by more than one million seats.

More interesting perhaps is the resurgence of London Heathrow, which lost its way during a series of pandemic lockdowns and other hard travel restrictions in 2020 and 2021, followed by capacity caps in 2022; but it occupies rank #2 in Jan-2023. Heathrow has just announced its highest ever trans Atlantic seat capacity.

Another notable performance is that of Doha’s Hamad Airport, which is creeping up the capacity rankings. It is currently ninth, a gain of 13 places over Jan-2019 and the largest positional rise of any of the Top 10.

While it might still be benefitting from a World Cup bounce it could eventually challenge Dubai (which is revamping its tourist offer in response), although it still has less than 50% of Dubai’s seats.

While the ‘usual suspects’ of Istanbul (+11 places over 2019), and also Paris CDG, Amsterdam and Frankfurt (all ‘old world hubs’ that were supposed to be past their sell-by date) are still very much present, note that this table includes three representative from Asia Pacific.

Singapore Changi was a feature in 2019 and retains the same position (#4).

But Seoul Incheon, which was particularly badly impacted by the pandemic, is making a comeback, as is Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, where the Thai authorities are trying desperately to attract Chinese visitors back to boost a decimated tourism business.

Worldwide airports: seats Jan-2023 and ranking compared with 2019  

Rank

Airport

Seats, Jan-2023

Ranking in Jan-2019

1

Dubai International, UAE

4,624,009

1

2

London Heathrow, UK

3,538,601

3

3

Istanbul, Türkiye

2,828,484

11

4

Singapore Changi

2,713,397

4

5

Paris Ch de Gaulle, France

2,640,281

7

6

Amsterdam, Netherlands

2,502,519

6

7

Seoul Incheon, Korea

2,281,964

5

8

Frankfurt, Germany

2,256,883

9

9

Doha, Qatar

2,196,309

13

10

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Thailand

1,963,733

8

Number 5: the cities that got 100 million passengers in 2022

127.5 million (and counting) – London again the city with the most passengers at its airports in 2022, but New York is hot on its heels

In 2020 CAPA published a report on the small inclusive ‘club’ of cities around the world which handled in excess of 100 million passengers during 2019.

In 2022 that club is of only two cities: London and New York.

The six London airports collectively managed 127.5 million, and counting, since only Heathrow and Stansted have announced full year figures at the time of writing.

New York’s four commercial scheduled airports accounted for 116.6 million passengers up to the end of Nov-2022, hinting that New York could possibly overtake London at the final reckoning.

Moscow has surpassed 100mppa in the past (2019), but there is insufficient data this year to make a calculation – it is unlikely to have reached that figure across its four airports.

The same applies to Tokyo, which has also been a member of the 100 Million Club but was hard hit by the pandemic. Up to Nov-2022 the three airports (including the small, regional and peripheral Ibaraki) had totalled 88.5 million for the year and will probably get close to 100 million, but not exceed it.

Another previous 100 mppa club member, Paris, has declared its totals for 2022 except for Beauvais, which is classed as a Paris airport because it carries the city’s name, and where an assumption has had to be made. That total is 89.7 million.

Atlanta’s airport had 85.7 million on its own, and several other US cities are in the mid 80 millions, including Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas.

China has simply collapsed: both Shanghai and Beijing had more than 100mppa in 2019 (almost 122 million in Shanghai’s case, and Beijing Capital hosted just more than 100 million on its own). In 2022 Shanghai was down to less than 30 million, and Beijing Capital sank from 100 million to 13 million in three years.

However, the Beijing Daxing airport (which had only just opened when the COVID pandemic was called) has continued to grow, from three million in 2019 to 25 million in 2021 before falling back to 9.3 million in 2022 (Jan-Oct).

Number 6: construction (1) – airport projects by region in numbers

425 major construction projects worldwide at existing airports

The CAPA Airport Construction Database lists 425 known major airport infrastructure construction projects globally in Jan-2023, each of which is at various stages, from preparatory to about to conclude. (Many projects were scheduled to end in Dec-2022, hence the database has contracted, but it is impossible to put aside the fact that these numbers are well down on what they were five years ago).

The breakdown by region is:

North America: 78

Latin America: 41

Africa: 23

Europe: 128

Asia Pacific: 155

Number 7: construction (2) – airport projects by region by investment level

USD451 billion is the value of global airport construction projects at existing airports

The same database details the investment levels in those projects.

The total committed expenditure globally stands at USD450.7 billion.

The breakdown by region is (amounts in USD billions):

North America: 110.7

Latin America: 11.6

Africa: 17.3

Europe: 101.7

Asia Pacific: 209.4

Number 8: construction (3) – new airport projects by region (numbers)

224 known new (‘greenfield’) airport projects globally

The Airport Construction Database also identifies 224 known new (‘greenfield’) airport projects globally in Jan-2023.

Again, they may be still on the drawing board, or close to completion.

The breakdown by region is:

North America: 4

Latin America: 26

Africa: 32

Europe: 30

Asia Pacific: 132

The figure 4 (four) for North America is not a typo. There is hardly any new airport investment there and that has been the case for more than a decade.

Another interesting statistic is that there are more in Africa than there are in Europe.

Number 9: construction (4) – new airport projects by investment levels

USD135 billion is the investment level in new airports in Asia Pacific – 71% of the global total

The total committed investment for these new airports is USD190.8 billion.

Breakdown (in USD billions):

North America: 1.6

Latin America: 10.8

Africa: 15.3

Europe: 28.4

Asia Pacific: 134.7

Number 10: airport investors – numbers, by ‘type’

55 private equity, hedge and venture capital funds supporting airport investment

The CAPA Global Airport Investors Database continued growing throughout the pandemic, but it is noticeable in recent months how that growth has ceased as M&A activity is reined in across all sectors.

Even so, there are currently 1074 company/organisation profile entries and this is how they break down by investor ’type’.

These are organisations (in rare cases individuals/entrepreneurs) which are now active investors in airports, have been (they often return, so are retained in the database), or have expressed a strong desire to do so.

Worldwide airports: investors by type, Jan-2023

 

The chart below is of the same investors-by-type examination from 2018.

There is a notable increase in the number of pension funds and private equity houses in 2023.

The increase in the number of airport operators, groups and consortiums is partially explained by a different method of counting being applied.

(Note that the ‘Other’ segment includes investors and investment managers that are not tied to named funds. Also that ‘Airline’ investors were not uniquely identified in 2018, being allocated again to ‘Other’, but with 55 profiles now there is a need for them to be identified).

Worldwide airports: investors by type, Jan-2018

.

Number 11: the number of airports certified environmentally by ACI (Airport Carbon Accreditation)

441 airports have now achieved one of six levels of accreditation

Airports Council International (ACI) independently assesses and accredits airports’ carbon reduction efforts across six levels of certification: Mapping; Reduction: Optimisation; Neutrality; Transformation; and Transition.

The total number of airports having achieved one of these categories of carbon accreditation worldwide is 441.

There are now 136 airports worldwide certified for mapping their carbon footprints.

There are 125 airports that are actively reducing their CO2 emissions under the auspices of Airport Carbon Accreditation.

There are 80 airports globally that are at Level 3 Optimisation. This means that they reduce their carbon footprint and talk to other stakeholders present at their premises to do the same.

Carbon neutrality has been achieved by 45 programme participants up to now.

There are currently 23 airport accredited at Level 4, Transformation.

Reaching Level 4+ Transition means that the airport has aligned its CO2 management with global climate goals and compensated for the remaining residual emissions with high quality carbon credits.

There are now 32 airports in the world that have achieved this level.

For further information see: Airport Carbon Accreditation

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