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The top 10 busiest airports in the world revealed

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The top 10 busiest airports in the world revealed

Initial data shows many previous busiest airports have now re-joined top ranks as recovery continues

Airports Council International (ACI) World has today published the top 10 busiest airports worldwide for 2021 showing encouraging signs of traffic recovery as many previous busiest airports re-join top ranks.

The world airport rankings are based on the preliminary compilation of 2021 global data from airports around the world. Due to ACI’s reach as the trade association of the world’s airports, the rankings reflect the most updated airport data used by the industry and include passenger traffic, cargo volumes, and aircraft movements.

Passenger traffic

Total global passengers in 2021 is estimated to be close to 4.5 billion, representing an increase of almost 25% from 2020, or a drop of more than 50% from 2019 results.

Passenger traffic at the top 10 busiest airports, representing collectively almost 10% of global traffic (463 million passengers), witnessed a gain of 51.8% from 2020, or a drop of 29.1% vis-à-vis their 2019 results.  

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL, 75.7 million passengers, +76.4%) is back at the top of 2021 rankings, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW, 62.5 million passengers, +58.7%), and Denver International Airport (DEN, 58.8 million passengers, +74.4%). After reaching the top rank in 2020, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport (CAN, 40.3 million passengers, -8.0%) slid to the eighth position in 2021.

Eight of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in the United States with the two remaining in China. All top 10 airports have a significant share of domestic traffic, the traffic segment that has been leading global recovery. The biggest improvement recorded was from Orlando International Airport (MCO, 40.4 million passengers, +86.7%) that jumped from 27th position in 2020 to seventh spot in 2021.

“The ACI World passenger traffic rankings tell the story of an encouraging trend of recovery, with most of the recurrent busiest airports pre-COVID-19 back at the top,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “Although we are cautious that recovery could face multiple headwinds, the momentum created by reopening plans by countries could lead to an uptick in travel in the second half of 2022.

“As such, ACI World continues to advocate to governments to follow the data and ease travel restrictions to safely restore the movement of people, goods, and services. This will provide travellers with more travel options and boost the overall recovery through aviation’s unique role in boosting trade, tourism, investment and creating jobs.”

PASSENGERS*

2021 2020 2019 Airport 2021 % change vs 2020 % change vs 2019
1 2 1 ATLANTA GA, US (ATL)  75 704 760 76.4 -31.5
2 4 10 DALLAS/FORT WORTH TX, US (DFW)  62 465 756 58.7 -16.8
3 8 16 DENVER CO, US (DEN)  58 828 552 74.4 -14.8
4 13 6 CHICAGO IL, US (ORD)  54 020 399 75.1 -36.2
5 15 3 LOS ANGELES CA, US (LAX)  48 007 284 66.8 -45.5
6 18 34 CHARLOTTE NC, US (CLT)  43 302 230 59.2 -13.4
7 27 31 ORLANDO FL, US (MCO)  40 351 068 86.7 -20.3
8 1 11 GUANGZHOU, CN (CAN)  40 259 401 -8.0 -45.1
9 3 24 CHENGDU, CN (CTU)  40 117 496 -1.5 -28.2
10 22 30 LAS VEGAS NV, US (LAS)  39 754 366 78.6 -23.1

* Total passengers enplaned and deplaned, passengers in transit counted once

INTERNATIONAL PASSENGERS*

2021 2020 2019 Airport 2021 % change vs 2020 % change vs 2019
1 1 1 DUBAI, AE (DXB)  29 110 609 12.7 -66.3
2 6 14 ISTANBUL, TR (IST)  26 466 169 66.0 -33.1
3 2 3 AMSTERDAM, NL (AMS)  25 488 783 22.1 -64.4
4 5 8 FRANKFURT, DE (FRA)  22 697 490 34.8 -64.0
5 4 6 PARIS, FR (CDG)  22 616 995 18.7 -67.6
6 7 15 DOHA, QA (DOH)  17 701 978 41.4 -54.4
7 3 2 LONDON, GB (LHR)  17 624 931 -14.7 -76.8
8 31 26 ANTALYA, TR (AYT)  17 148 111 160.4 -40.3
9 10 11 MADRID, ES (MAD)  15 337 775 38.8 -65.9
10 28 61 CANCÚN, MX (CUN)  13 261 951 94.5 -19.7

* International passengers enplaned and deplaned

Cargo and aircraft movements

Air cargo, which was less impacted by COVID-19, had its volumes increase by close to 15% year-over-year (+3.5% versus 2019), to an estimated record 124 million metric tonnes in 2021.

Air cargo volumes at the top 10 airports, representing collectively around 25% (31.5 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes in 2021, gained 12.1% in 2021 year-over-year (or 15.0% vs. 2019 results). The gain can be attributed to the continued increase in demand for online consumer goods and pharmaceutical products.

Hong Kong International Airport (HKG, 5.0 million metric tonnes, +12.5%) gained back the top rank and Memphis International Airport (MEM, 4.5 million metric tonnes, -2.9%) went back to second position, followed by Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG, 4.0 million metric tonnes, +8.0%) in third.

ACI World estimates that there were over 69 million global aircraft movements in 2021, representing a gain of more than 12% from 2020. The top 10 airports represent close to 8% of global traffic (5.3 million movements) and experienced a gain of 33.9% year-over-year, still representing a drop of 16.1% vis-à-vis 2019.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL, 708 thousand movements, +29.1%) leads, followed by Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD, 684 thousand, +27.1%) and Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW, 652 thousand, +26.7%). All top 10 airports for aircraft movements are in the United States.

CARGO (METRIC TONNES)*

2021 2020 2019 Airport 2021 % change vs 2020 % change vs 2019
1 2 1 HONG KONG SAR, HK (HKG)  5025495 12.5 4.5
2 1 2 MEMPHIS TN, US (MEM)  4 480 465 -2.9 3.6
3 3 3 SHANGHAI, CN (PVG)  3 982 616 8.0 9.6
4 4 6 ANCHORAGE AK, US (ANC**)  3 555 160 12.6 29.5
5 6 5 INCHEON, KR (ICN)  3 329 292 18.0 20.4
6 5 4 LOUISVILLE KY, US (SDF)  3 052 269 4.6 9.4
7 7 9 TAIPEI, TW (TPE)  2 722 065 16.2 24.7
8 8 13 LOS ANGELES CA, US (LAX)  2 691 830 20.7 28.7
9 11 10 TOKYO, JP (NRT)  2 644 074 31.1 25.7
10 9 8 DOHA, QA (DOH)  2 620 095 20.5 18.2

*Cargo: loaded and unloaded freight and mail in metric tonnes
** Includes transit freight

INTERNATIONAL FREIGHT (METRIC TONNES)*

2021 2020 2019 Airport 2021 % change vs 2020 % change vs 2019
1 1 1 HONG KONG SAR, HK (HKG) 4 986 256 12.8 6.0
2 3 3 INCHEON, KR (ICN)  3 273 004 18.6 22.9
3 2 2 SHANGHAI, CN (PVG)  3 245 548 9.9 14.9
4 4 6 TAIPEI, TW (TPE)  2 703 584 16.4 24.9
5 7 7 TOKYO, JP (NRT)  2 591 255 32.3 27.0
6 6 5 DOHA, QA (DOH)  2 589 283 20.7 19.1
7 5 10 ANCHORAGE AK, US (ANC**)  2 438 809 9.8 25.5
8 8 4 DUBAI, AE (DXB)  2 319 185 20.0 -7.8
9 9 9 FRANKFURT, DE (FRA)  2 194 653 20.7 11.9
10 10 12 MIAMI FL, US (MIA)  2 040 547 17.9 19.6

*International freight loaded and unloaded in metric tonnes
** Includes transit freight

AIRCRAFT MOVEMENTS*

2021 2020 2019 Airport 2021 % change vs 2020 % change vs 2019
1 1 2 ATLANTA GA, US (ATL)   707 661 29.1 -21.7
2 2 1 CHICAGO IL, US (ORD)   684 201 27.1 -25.6
3 3 3 DALLAS/FORT WORTH TX, US (DFW)   651 895 26.7 -9.5
4 4 5 DENVER CO, US (DEN)   580 866 32.9 -8.1
5 6 7 CHARLOTTE NC, US (CLT)   519 895 30.6 -10.1
6 7 4 LOS ANGELES CA, US (LAX)   506 769 33.6 -26.7
7 10 8 LAS VEGAS NV, US (LAS)   486 540 50.4 -12.0
8 13 25 PHOENIX AZ, US (PHX)   408 285 31.6 -7.0
9 24 30 MIAMI FL, US (MIA)   387 973 54.4 -6.9
10 21 14 HOUSTON TX, US (IAH)   378 562 41.4 -20.8

*Movements: landings and take-offs

This press release was sourced from ACI World on 11-Apr-2022.