Asia on the ascent: another five Asian airports reach 60 million annual passengers in 2017

Asia now accounts for nine of the 20 airports that handle at least 60 million annual passengers. Five Asian airports reached 60 million annual passengers for the first time in 2017 – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Delhi Indira Gandhi, Guangzhou Baiyun, Seoul Incheon and Singapore Changi.

In 2016 Asia only accounted for four, or 29%, of the 14 airports handling at least 60 million passengers. Asia will likely account for 50% of the airports, with at least 60 million passengers in 2018, and more than 60% by 2020.

Asia’s fast-growing share is an indication of Asia’s increased role in global traffic. Large Asian airports (over 30 million annual passengers) without infrastructure constraints are particularly well placed for growth, leading to a steady stream of airports reaching the 50 million and 60 million annual passenger milestones.


  • Globally, there are now 20 airports with at least 60 million annual passengers
  • Five Asian airports reached the 60 million passenger milestone in 2017. There were nine Asian airports with at least 60 million passengers in 2017, compared to only four Asian airports in 2016
  • Singapore Changi and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi have become the first airports in Southeast Asia to have more than 60 million annual passengers
  • Delhi Indira Gandhi became the first airport in South Asia with 60 million annual passengers

Asia now accounts for 45% of the world’s top 20 airports

Fourteen airports handled more than 60 million passengers in 2016: four in Asia, four in North America, five in Europe, and one in the Middle East. The four Asian airports were all from North AsiaBeijing Capital, Tokyo Haneda, Hong Kong International and Shanghai Pudong.

Another five Asian airports reached 60 million annual passengers in 2017, along with one airport from another region (Denver from North America).

Guangzhou Baiyun and Seoul Incheon handled over 60 million passengers in 2017, raising the North Asia total to six airports. For the first time, airports from Southeast Asia – Singapore Changi and Bangkok Suvarnabhumi – and from South Asia – Delhi Indira Gandhi – joined the 60 million club.

For 2017, there are now 20 airports in the club of having least 60 million annual passengers, consisting of nine in Asia, five in North America, five in Europe, and one in the Middle East. In 2017 Asia therefore accounted for a leading 45% of airports with at least 60 million passengers, compared to handling only 29% in 2016.

Southeast Asia now has two – soon to be four – airports with 60 million passengers 

Delhi Indira Gandhi and Guangzhou Baiyun reached 60 million annual passengers for the first time in late Nov-2017. Singapore Changi hit 60 million passengers on 18-Dec-2017, and Seoul Incheon crossed the 60 million passenger milestone on 21-Dec-2017.

Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport handled its 60 millionth passenger several days after Changi, making it the second Southeast Asian airport to reach the 60 million passenger milestone. Suvarnabhumi ended 2017 with approximately 61 million passengers, and Changi ended the year with 62 to 63 million. 

Two other airports in Southeast Asia, Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta, handled almost 60 million passengers in 2017 and should reach the milestone in 2018.

(Note: Airports have not yet reported annual traffic figures for 2017, but CAPA was able to determine which airports surpassed 60 million based on partial year figures and, in some cases, announcements that the 60 millionth passenger had been put through.)

Denver was the lone non-Asian airport reaching 60 million passengers for the first time in 2017

Outside Asia, Denver International Airport also surpassed 60 million annual passengers for the first time in 2017, reaching the milestone on 23-Dec-2017. Therefore, the number of airports from North America with at least 60 million passengers grew from four to five, matching the figure from Europe. Based on seat capacity data for the first week of 2018, Denver does not make the top 20.

Amsterdam Schiphol, which reached 60 million annual passengers in 2016, also does not make the top 20. However, the other 18 airports that handled at least 60 million passengers in 2017 are also in the current global top 20 ranking by seat capacity.

Top 20 airports ranked by weekly seat capacity: 1-Jan-2018 to 7-Jan-2018

Rank Airline Airport code Weekly seats
1 Dubai International Airport DXB 2,330,043
2 Beijing Capital International Airport PEK 2,292,153
3 Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport ATL 2,072,701
4 Los Angeles International Airport LAX 1,986,891
5 Tokyo Haneda Airport HND 1,961,479
6 London Heathrow Airport LHR 1,886,298
7 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport CGK 1,777,808
8 Chicago O'Hare International Airport ORD 1,766,257
9 Hong Kong International Airport HKG 1,746,011
10 Shanghai Pudong International Airport PVG 1,665,689
11 Singapore Changi Airport SIN 1,591,276
12 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport BKK 1,582,559
13 Seoul Incheon International Airport ICN 1,572,182
14 Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport DEL 1,530,021
15 Kuala Lumpur International Airport KUL 1,522,833
16 Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport CDG 1,521,041
17 Istanbul Ataturk Airport IST 1,516,223
18 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport DFW 1,505,294
19 Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport CAN 1,450,183
20 Frankfurt Airport FRA 1,405,943

Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur make the above chart, possibly due to seasonal fluctuations in capacity. As previously highlighted, both airports likely fell slightly short of the 60 million passenger mark in 2017.

Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) handled 58 to 59 million passengers in 2017. Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta handled approximately 59 million passengers in 2017, but the figure is harder to estimate because there is typically a three month lag in its monthly traffic reports (for most other airports traffic is available through November, making a full year estimate more straightforward). For the 12 months ending Jul-2017, Jakarta handled 59.3 million passengers.

Amsterdam handled an estimated 69 million passengers in 2017, up from 63.6 million in 2016. Denver handled 61 to 62 million passengers in 2017, up from 58.3 million in 2016.

Several more Asian airports should reach 60 million annual passengers by 2020

Asia’s quota of airports in the 60 million a club has increased from only 29% in 2016 to 45% in 2017. Asia will likely account for 50% of the world’s airports handling 60 million-plus passenger airports in 2018, and more than 60% in 2020.

As highlighted earlier in this report, Kuala Lumpur International and Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta should reach 60 million annual passengers in 2018. Mumbai in India, Taipei in Taiwan and three airports in mainland China will likely reach 60 million passengers within the next few years – Chengdu, Kunming and Shenzhen.

Mumbai, Taipei, Chengdu, Kunming and Shenzhen each handled more than 40 million passengers in 2016. Chengdu likely reached 50 million passengers in 2017 (annual figures from Chengdu will not be available for a couple of months) while the other four airports will likely reach 50 million passengers in 2018. All five airports could hit 60 million by 2020.

Asia’s top 10 airports are growing more slowly than the next 10

Asia’s top 10 airports have generally been growing at a slower pace than the next 10 largest airports in the region. This is partly due to infrastructure constraints at Asia’s largest airport, but also reflects growing demand at smaller hubs and, in the case of China, secondary cities.

For example, annual passenger traffic at Chengdu grew by 78% from 2010 to 2016, and annual passenger traffic at Delhi grew by 96% over the same six-year period. Traffic at Kunming, and the slightly smaller Ho Chi Minh, more than doubled from 2010 to 2016.

Of Asia’s top 10 airports (based on 2016 figures), the rate of growth for the six years ending 2016 ranged from 25% to 73%.  The only top 10 Asian airports with more than 50% growth for the 2010 to 2016 period were Kuala Lumpur International and Seoul Incheon. Tokyo Haneda and Jakarta-Soekarno Hatta had the slowest growth, at 24% and 25% respectively.

Asia’s top 10 airports based on passenger traffic for 2016 and % growth, compared to 2015 and 2010

Asia is booming, but some airports are better placed to grow than others

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta is no longer one of Asia’s 10 largest airports.

In 2014 Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta was the fourth largest airport in Asia – behind only Beijing Capital, Tokyo Haneda and Hong Kong International. Jakarta’s rapid descent in the rankings highlights how important it is to invest in airport infrastructure.

Overall, passenger traffic in Asia is on a rapid ascent, and Asia will continue to be the world's fastest-growing region. However, the additional traffic will not be evenly distributed. Medium to large airports with sufficient infrastructure are best placed to benefit.

Therefore, more airports in Asia will continue to reach the 50 and 60 million passenger milestones, whereas some of the region’s largest hubs will experience growth that is much slower than the regional average.

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