The Busiest Airports in the World
The Busiest Airports in the World

The aviation industry is making a strong comeback. In 2023, the top 10 busiest airports welcomed a total of 806 million passengers. This marks a 19.8% increase from the year before.1 These numbers show how important these airport hubs are as we recover from the effects of COVID-19. Many are still below their 2020 numbers, but it’s clear people love to visit certain destinations across the world.

RankAirportCity/CountryAnnual Passengers
1AtlantaUSA104,653,451
2DubaiUAE86,994,365
3Dallas Fort WorthUSA81,755,538
4London HeathrowUK79,183,364
5Tokyo HanedaJapan78,719,302
6DenverUSA77,837,917
7Istanbul ArnavutköyTurkey76,027,321
8Los AngelesUSA75,050,875
9Chicago O’HareUSA73,894,226
10Delhi Indira GandhiIndia72,214,841
11Paris Charles de GaulleFrance67,421,316
12Guangzhou BaiyunChina63,169,169
13New York John F. KennedyUSA62,464,331
14Amsterdam SchipholNetherlands61,889,586
15Madrid-BarajasSpain60,181,604
16FrankfurtGermany59,355,389
17Singapore ChangiSingapore58,946,000
18OrlandoUSA57,735,726
19Las Vegas Harry ReidUSA57,666,456
20Seoul IncheonSouth Korea56,235,410

Key Takeaways

  • Half of the world’s top 10 busiest airports are in the United States.2
  • North America shines with 22 airports in the top 50, Europe follows with 11, Asia with 14.3
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the busiest in the world, serving 93.7 million passengers.3
  • Dubai International Airport took over Dallas Fort Worth to claim the second spot globally.1
  • Tokyo Haneda International made the biggest leap, rising from 16th to 5th place in just a year.1

Introduction

The world’s airports are slowly bouncing back from the tough times of COVID-19.4 Although some are still below their normal passenger levels, the busiest airports remain well-known.4

Global Aviation Industry’s Recovery from COVID-19

Busiest Airports by Annual Passengers (2023)

Busiest Airports by Annual Passengers (2023)

Source: Airports Council International, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Some airlines are doing better at recovering than others, showing the industry’s strength.4 Now, global air travel is at almost 94% of what it was before the pandemic, pointing to the sector’s fight back.4

The Importance of Busiest Airports in Global Connectivity

The top airports are key for global tie-ups, business, and pushing economic growth forward.4 These spots give hints about the industry’s new directions and focuses post-COVID.

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Reclaiming the Top Position

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport leads as the world’s busiest airport. In 2022, it served 104,653,451 passengers, up by 11.7% from the year before.3 This marked Atlanta’s return to the top in 2021. It’s since kept its position, showing its importance as a key hub for travel worldwide.1

Passenger Traffic Statistics

This airport in Atlanta remains the world’s busiest. It tops for passenger numbers and plane movements in 2023.1 Its location, effective processes, and ongoing upgrades have helped it stay on top. This is despite the tough times due to COVID-19.

In 2023, all the most crowded airports are in the U.S. Hartsfield–Jackson sits at the top, with Dallas Fort Worth, Denver, and Los Angeles following.3

Dubai International Airport

Dubai International (DXB) is the most active airport in Asia, with top records like the world’s biggest baggage system.5 In 2023, it saw 86.9 million travelers, jumping by 31.7% from the year before.5 This year, it’s expected to welcome 88.8 million people. By 2025, this number might grow to 93.8 million.5 In 2023, DXB passed Dallas/Fort Worth for total passengers, coming in second at 104.6 million, behind Atlanta.5

Rising to Second Rank

At the Dubai International Airport in 2023, almost 87 million people arrived, which is a 31.7% leap.6 Its key location helps it be a major stop for global travel, aiding its growth.5 More than 400,000 flights took off or landed there, up 21.3%, while cargo loads grew by 4.5%.7

Strategic Location Driving Growth

Dubai International Airport is a vital hub for global travel, thanks to its key position.5 It can welcome 90 million travelers each year. Since January 2024, 100 airlines offer over 8,000 weekly flights to 262 spots worldwide.7 Its impact on the economy is big, at $26.7 billion, and it helps over 400,000 jobs indirectly.7

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is among the top busiest in the world. It comes in third globally in terms of passenger numbers. In 2023, it welcomed 81,755,538 passengers, up 8.9% from the year before.8 The airport aims to serve over a billion flyers in the next decade. The CEO of American Airlines looks forward to making DFW the number one airport worldwide.8

Carbon Neutrality Initiatives

DFW isn’t just a key player in the global air travel scene; it’s also leading in going green.9 It holds the title of the largest carbon-neutral airport globally and is the first in North America to do so.9 This achievement is due to its use of renewable energy, water savings, and cutting down on waste.9

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport in London (LHR) has stood out among six main London airports. This is due to its many international flights. These connections helped it become the busiest airport in Europe again in 2023. After Istanbul briefly took the lead from 2020 to 2022. In 2022, a whopping 61.6 million people went through Heathrow.10 This was a 217% rise from the year before.10 By 2023, Heathrow climbed back to 8th on the global list of busiest airports.10

Regaining Busiest European Airport Title

In 2023, Heathrow handled over 79 million passengers, keeping its top spot in Europe. Its prime location and many flights to other countries have kept it successful. This success is especially impressive as the world of travel tries to recover from the pandemic.11 Dealing with over 79 million passengers in 2023, it’s clear that Heathrow is an essential international hub.

Expansion Plans and Legal Challenges

Heathrow faces some hurdles despite its success. Legal debates and laws have slowed its growth. With over 1,200 hectares of land, it has a big financial influence and social reach.12 Around 114,000 people benefit from its community programs.12 However, Heathrow is dedicated to its future. It’s aiming to become even more important as a global air travel center.

The Busiest Airports in the World

The most visited places keep their positions in the top ten busiest airports list. About half of these are found in the US. North America also includes five of the world’s most bustling travel hubs. At the same time, Europe now has two spots, leaving the rest for Asia. This shows Asia is leading the way in air travel.2

In Atlanta, the Hartsfield–Jackson Airport topped the chart with over 104 million passengers arriving in 2023. This number grew by nearly 12% from the year before. Dubai’s Airport came next, showing a big 31.7% growth from the previous year, with almost 87 million passengers. As for Dallas Fort Worth, they had an increase of 11.4%, serving over 81 million travelers.3

Heathrow in London welcomed over 79 million visitors in 2023, an increase of 28.5%. Tokyo’s Haneda Airport saw more than 78 million people, reflecting a hefty 55.1% rise. Istanbul Airport was not far behind, handling over 76 million travelers, showing an 18.3% jump.3

Los Angeles International Airport served over 75 million passengers, an increase of 13.8%. Chicago’s O’Hare saw over 73 million visitors, up by 8.1%. India’s Indira Airport had over 72 million passengers, marking a 21.4% growth. Finally, Charles de Gaulle in France had over 67 million visitors, up 17.3%.3

AirportPassenger Traffic (2023)Change from Previous Year
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport104,653,451+11.7%
Dubai International Airport86,994,365+31.7%
Dallas Fort Worth International Airport81,755,538+11.4%
Heathrow Airport79,183,364+28.5%
Tokyo Haneda Airport78,719,302+55.1%
Istanbul Airport76,027,321+18.3%
Los Angeles International Airport75,050,875+13.8%
O’Hare International Airport73,894,226+8.1%
Indira Gandhi International Airport72,214,841+21.4%
Charles de Gaulle Airport67,421,316+17.3%

Tokyo Haneda International Airport

Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) has seen a big change since 2022. It moved up from sixteenth to fifth place in just a year. This was because 28 million more passengers used the airport, a 55% increase. In total, there were 78,719,302 arrivals and departures in 2023.3 This jump shows Haneda’s growing importance in the world of air travel.

Remarkable Rise in Rankings

In 2023, Tokyo Haneda International Airport’s ranking skyrocketed from 16th to 5th place. It saw a 55.1% increase in passengers. Plus, it had a 213% rise in international passengers, moving from 32nd to 7th place.13 This quick climb shows how Haneda meets the changing needs of travel post-pandemic.

Historical Background and Expansion

Haneda is a key airport for Tokyo and has been operational since 1931. It has grown and improved over the years to support Japan’s aviation growth. The airport’s location, transportation links, and focus on new ideas have helped it become a top global airport.

Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport (DEN) started in 1995. Since then, it’s been among the 20 busiest airports each year. Even through Covid-19, it fared better than some.14

Weathering the Pandemic Storm

In 2023, it became the sixth busiest in the world and the third in the U.S. For the first time, it welcomed more than 70 million passengers. This was a big step from the previous 40 million.14

In 2019, before Covid-19, it was the 16th busiest globally. But, it quickly bounced back, reaching the third spot in 2021 and 2022.14

Although it saw a drop in global rankings, it remains the third busiest in the U.S. and fourth in aircraft movements worldwide.14 By 2030, it expects to serve over 100 million travelers yearly. To prepare, it’s working on a plan called “Vision 100.” This will bring upgrades like a new 17-lane security checkpoint and more direct flight routes.14

Largest Airport Site in North America

In 2023, Denver Airport hosted nearly 78 million people. It also saw over 662,000 aircraft landings and takeoffs. Plus, it handled over 680 million pounds of cargo.15

With over 33,000 acres, it’s the biggest airport in the Western Hemisphere. And, it boasts the longest public runway in North America, at 16,000 feet long.15

In 2018, it contributed $33.5 billion to the economy. Since 2000, it has been among the top 20 busiest airports globally.15

denver international airport

Istanbul Airport

iGA Istanbul Airport (IST) remains one of the busiest. It stayed on top in 2022, adding almost 12 million more passengers in 2023. This shows the sector’s worldwide growth.2 In 2023, the airport saw 76,236,980 arrivals and departures. It’s been recovering well since 2020.2 Also, it ranked 7th worldwide in passenger numbers. 76,027,321 people flew through, up by 18.3% from the year before.3

Strategic Location Fueling Growth

The airport’s location, between Europe and Asia, boosts its growth. It serves as a key stop for travelers going East or West. This spot makes it the top airport in Asia.2

Largest Terminal Under One Roof

The airport boasts the world’s biggest terminal under one roof. Covering over 1.4 million square meters, it has room for more passengers and great facilities.2

Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles International Airport, or LAX, is a global favorite. It’s among the top ten busiest airports worldwide. In 2023, it ranked 8th with over 75 million passengers, growing by 13.8% from the year before.3 The U.S. had the busiest airports; LAX was one of them. Its passengers increased by 37.3% from 2022, proving its high demand.3

Iconic Status and Ongoing Improvements

Even though LAX had fewer passengers than some, it had a bigger yearly growth. This highlight its global importance in air travel.3 LAX aims to improve passenger services. It performed well in 2023, with almost 80% of flights departing on time.16

los angeles international airport

LAX saw many aircraft movements in 2023, according to the Airports Council International (ACI). While not leading in international passengers, it was known for its busy skies. The U.S. was also strong in air cargo, with LAX among the key players.16

O’Hare International Airport

Chicago O’Hare International (ORD) is the first of five top US airports on the list. Although it ranked fourth in recent years, it’s no longer as busy as before. At its peak, between 1963 and 1998, it was the world’s busiest airport.17 Still, ORD is a crucial place for air travel, with 68.3 million passengers in 2022. This was a big increase of 26.5% from the year before.17

Maintaining its Dominance

O’Hare continues to be one of the world’s busiest airports. This is thanks to its great location and ongoing effort to improve its facilities. In 2023, the airport is set to welcome nearly 74 million passengers. It will have over 720,000 aircraft movements and handle almost 2 million tons of cargo.18

Intersecting Runways and Terminal Expansions

One key feature of O’Hare is its intersecting runways. This design supports smooth aircraft movements, helping with the high passenger traffic. The airport also keeps adding new terminals and upgrading the older ones to make traveling better and keep up with the demand.17

Indira Gandhi International Airport

Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) is India’s key gateway in New Delhi. It proudly tops India’s airport list for the most traffic. In the fiscal year 2023-24, it served 73,673,708 passengers, up by 12.8% from the year before.19 International passengers numbered 19,470,161, a 24.4% leap compared to the previous year.19

India’s Busiest Airport

This airport is the sole Indian one in the world’s top 10 busiest. Its success is due to its prime spot and the rising need for domestic air travel. In FY 2023-24, it saw 73,673,708 passengers, a 12.8% increase from the year before.20

Capacity Challenges and New Airport Plans

The impressive traffic comes with challenges. Its aircraft movements reached 442,488 in 2023-24, up by 2.9%. To better handle this growth, a new international airport is planned for Delhi-NCR.19 This new airport will help share the workload and add more room for the increasing air travel demand in India.

Cargo handling at this airport hit 1,003,306 tons in 2023-24, up by 12%. It shows the airport’s growing role as a major cargo hub. This growth is driven by a booming economy and the rise of e-commerce, both demanding faster freight services.

Air Cargo Traffic

The global air cargo industry has faced ups and downs, especially with COVID-19. It’s said that air cargo volumes will likely go down by 3.1% in 2023. This means we’d see fewer goods moved around, affecting businesses and consumers alike.21

This decline is linked to an overall slowdown in the economy. Also, there have been lots of problems in supply chains and changes in what people want to buy. These issues have been felt by many different areas of the economy.

Global Cargo Trends

Even with challenges, air cargo remains crucial for worldwide trading and logistics. Passenger flights haven’t picked up much, but the cargo side is doing better. It keeps finding new ways to meet the changing needs of the market.21

The industry’s quick changes have helped in its recovery. It has shown strength in adapting to tough situations, seeking new possibilities.

Top Cargo Airports

In this changing world, some airports are standing out for their air cargo work. For example, in 2023, Hong Kong International Airport was the busiest for air cargo. It had over 4.3 million metric tonnes of goods, a 3.2% increase.22

Memphis International Airport ranked second with over 4.8 million tonnes, up by 4.0%. Shanghai Pudong International Airport came in third, with a 10.4% jump in cargo to over 3.4 million tonnes.22

Louisville International Airport in the US saw an 11.1% rise in cargo to over 2.7 million tonnes. Los Angeles International Airport marked a big 14.9% increase, moving over 2.1 million tonnes of cargo.22

AirportCargo Handled (Metric Tonnes)Year-over-Year Change
Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)4,331,9763.2% increase
Memphis International Airport (MEM)4,881,2114.0% increase
Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)3,440,08410.4% increase
Louisville International Airport (SDF)2,727,82011.1% increase
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)2,130,83514.9% increase

Aircraft Movements

The global aviation industry has bounced back impressively after COVID-19. In 2023, nearly 95 million aircraft moved worldwide. This marks an 11.8% increase from the year before. It’s nearly as much as before the pandemic, showing an amazing recovery.1

Global Aircraft Movement Statistics

The world’s top 10 airports saw over 6 million flights in 2023. This was a 7.4% more than in 2022. It’s almost back to the same level as before the pandemic, with a 96.4% recovery.1

Busiest Airports by Aircraft Movements

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport tops the list in aircraft movements. Chicago O’Hare Airport and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport follow behind.1

In 2023, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport took the lead with 775,818 flights. This was a 7.1% increase from the year before.23 Istanbul Airport in Turkey saw a big 18.8% jump to 505,968 flights.23 Harry Reid International Airport in Paradise, Nevada had 611,806 flights. This was a 5.3% growth.23 Haneda Airport in Tokyo, Japan also increased by 19.8%, reaching 464,910 flights.23

Atlanta, Georgia, kept its first place with 775,818 flights in 2023, up by 7.1%.23 O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, increased by 1.3% to 720,582 flights.23 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport saw a 5.0% climb to 689,569 flights.23 Los Angeles International Airport had 575,097 flights in 2023, 3.3% more than before.23 Charlotte Douglas International Airport experienced a 6.6% growth to 539,066 flights.23 John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York recorded 481,075 flights, up by 7.2%.23

Conclusion

The world’s busiest airports are key players in linking people, businesses, and helping economies grow. Almost 8.5 billion passengers traveled in 2023. This shows a strong rebound from the pandemic, almost reaching pre-pandemic levels.24

Just the top 10 airports managed 808 million passengers. They have shown they can face and overcome pandemic challenges.

In 2023, the global air cargo dropped by 3.1%. Despite this, the top 10 air cargo hubs handled a big portion, about 26%. This was nearly 113 million metric tonnes worldwide.24

More planes flew in 2023 than in the previous year, hitting almost 95 million flights. The top 10 airports hosted over 6% of these flights. This shows their ongoing significance in air transport.24

These stats prove how essential these airports are for connecting us and moving goods globally. After the pandemic, they will be critical in getting the world’s economy back on track. They will also influence how we travel by air in the future.25

FAQ

What are the busiest airports in the world?

The ten busiest airports in the world show us where people are traveling most. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta leads the way. Dubai International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport are also high on the list.

How has the aviation industry recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic?

After COVID-19 travel bans, the aviation world is slowly getting back on its feet. Some airlines are bouncing back faster than others. Even though travel is picking up, many places haven’t reached pre-2020 levels yet.

What is the significance of the busiest airports in the world?

The busiest airports are vital for linking countries, doing business, and growing economies. Despite tough pandemic times, airports are showing they can keep going strong. This is good news for worldwide travel and economy.

What are the notable features of some of the world’s busiest airports?

Dubai International Airport boasts of the world’s largest baggage system. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is the biggest “carbon neutral” airport globally.Heathrow Airport in London is again Europe’s top airport for international travel. Tokyo Haneda Airport has rapidly climbed the ranks in popularity, now 5th in the world.

How have the rankings of the world’s busiest airports changed over time?

The top ten busiest airports have seen movements. North America is steady, but Europe is losing ground while Asia rises. Chicago’s airport fell a bit, and India’s Indira Gandhi Airport is a new top 10 member.

What are the global trends in air cargo and aircraft movements?

In 2023, air cargo dropped by 3.1% year-over-year. A positive note, global aircraft movements reached near 95 million. This shows a big 11.8% rise from 2022 and almost full pre-pandemic recovery. The world’s aviation is bouncing back impressively.

Source Links

  1. https://aci.aero/2024/04/14/top-10-busiest-airports-in-the-world-shift-with-the-rise-of-international-air-travel-demand/
  2. https://www.airport-technology.com/features/the-top-10-busiest-airports-in-the-world/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_by_passenger_traffic
  4. https://thepointsguy.com/news/busiest-airports-in-the-world-2023/
  5. https://www.thenationalnews.com/business/aviation/2024/04/15/dxb-dubai-airport-worlds-busiest/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_by_international_passenger_traffic
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai_International_Airport
  8. https://www.dallasnews.com/business/airlines/2024/04/15/dfw-airport-falls-to-third-in-ranking-of-worlds-busiest-airports/
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dallas_Fort_Worth_International_Airport
  10. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/heathrow-worlds-busiest-airports-london-b2315382.html
  11. https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-busiest-airports-in-the-world
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heathrow_Airport
  13. https://skift.com/2024/04/16/tokyo-soars-back-into-busiest-airport-ranking/
  14. https://www.denverpost.com/2024/04/15/denver-international-airport-passenger-traffic-2/
  15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denver_International_Airport
  16. https://ktla.com/news/local-news/where-lax-ranks-among-the-worlds-busiest-airports/
  17. https://abc7chicago.com/chicago-ohare-airport-busy-flights/13091936/
  18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O’Hare_International_Airport
  19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indira_Gandhi_International_Airport
  20. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_in_India
  21. https://www.internationalairportreview.com/article/107921/top-10-busiest-airports-world-cargo/
  22. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_by_cargo_traffic
  23. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_by_aircraft_movements
  24. https://airportindustry-news.com/aci-world-reveals-top-10-busiest-airports-in-2023/
  25. https://fox59.com/news/national-world/these-5-us-airports-ranked-among-2023s-busiest-worldwide-report/

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