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Top 10 World’s Busiest Airports in 2018

Have you ever wondered which airport carries the most passengers? Where would you get the figures? Well, there is a council that plays the role of crunching the numbers. Airports Council International has released the list of the most-travelled airports in the world in 2015.  ACI run the affairs of airports considers the number of passengers the airport has carried in a year. ACI get the figures of passengers from 1,144 airports in the world. However, there are over 44,000 airports in the world. ATL has remained the top airport since the year 2000. Regarding air cargo Hong Kong remains to be the largest hub in the world and recorded a rise of 0.4% last year. Mephis comes second with an increase of 0.8%. PVG follows with an increase in cargo capacity of 2.9% in 2015.

Here is the list of the top 10 busiest airports in the world.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport


Atlanta Airport is located 11km from the Central Business District, Atlanta, Georgia. This public airport emerged top on the list and is operated by Atlanta Department of Aviation.  Since 2000, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) has maintained the top position. It has been the busiest airport in the world. The airport’s passenger traffic grew by 5.5% to a record over 100 million in 2015. That is equivalent to over 260,000 passengers daily and 950,199 flights.  Besides, from 2005 to 2013, the airport had the most landings and take-offs, same to the year 2015. Most of the flights are domestic. The airport makes international flights to and from North, Central and South America. Also, it makes flights to Europe, Asia and Africa. Atlanta has managed to maintain the top position due to its strategic location.

It is a hub and a port of entry to North America. Morever, eight percent of the United States population prefers Atlanta.  This is because it is within a two-hour flight to the destinations. Atlanta growth has been influenced majorly by its principal operator Delta Air Lines. Delta flew over 75 % passengers Feb 2016.  Other hubs of Atlanta shared the remaining percentage. Delta Airlines has over 1000 flights a day and is the largest hub in the world. Atlanta Airport also harbors Delta’s Technical Operations Center. The center does repairs and maintenance at the airline. There was a slowdown of movements at Chicago O’Hare (ORD). As a result, ATL took the first position for aircraft movement in 2015. ORD recorded a decrease of -0.8% while ATL had a 1.5% increase.

2. Beijing Capital International Airport


Beijing Airport is a public airport located 32 km northeast of Beijing City Center. It covers about 1480 ha of land. Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited is the owner and the operator of the airport. It is a company owned by the state. Beijing (PEK) acts as the central hub for Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines. It is also a hub for China Southeastern Airlines. Air China is the major airline with about 120 destinations exclusive of the cargo. Following the Summer Olympic Games in 2008, the airport added another terminal, Terminal 3. It became the second largest terminal after Dubai Airport Terminal 3.

Beijing Airport has enjoyed double-digit growth for quite some time.  But that is no longer the case. In fact, at the rate it was growing, it was possible to beat Atlanta. Now, it ranks number two among the most traveled airport in the world since 2010. Its capacity and poor economic times in China are to blame for the stagnating growth. Beijing (PEK) passenger traffic grew by only 4.4% in 2015 to reach just below 90 million. Shanghai (PVT) is the second largest airport in China concerning passengers. It recorded a notable growth of 16.3% in 2015. It was the fastest growing airport among the top 20. The growth can be attributed to an extra runway and increased slot capacity.

3. Dubai International Airport


Dubai (DXB) climbed the ranks from number six in 2014 to number three in 2015. The Dubai International Airport is 4.5km east of Dubai and is spread over an area of 2900 ha. Dubai Airports Company operates the airport. The airport is the hub for Dubai International Airlines, flydubai and Emirates. But Emirates remains the largest airline in the Middle East. It carries over 65% of the total passenger traffic. Flydubai, a low-cost carrier, handles 11.6% of the traffic. The airport showed a tremendous growth in passenger traffic. The airport recorded an increase of 10. 7% in the number of passengers carried.

The airport also takes the crown as the airport with the largest number of international travelers. Dubai (DXB) has three terminals. Terminal 3 is the second largest in the world. According to January 2016 statistics, the airport makes 7700 flights per week. 140 airlines operate these flights to various destinations in six continents. Regarding air cargo, it falls at number six in the world. The airport flew 78 million passengers in 2015 of the total annual capacity of 90 million. It had over 400,000 aircraft movements and 2.51 million tons of cargo.

4. O’Hare International Airport


Chicago (ORD) is a public airport located on the Northwest side of Chicago, Illinois. The City of Chicago Department of Aviation operates the airport. It serves as the major airport for Chicago metropolitan area. Chicago O’Hare (ORD) ranked at position seven in 2014. Regarding take offs and landings, O’Hare beat Hartsfield-Jackson as the busiest airport. It lost the title a year later to Hartsfield-Jackson. Chicago (ORD) used to be the busiest airport in passenger traffic until 1998. The need to reduce flight delays imposed by the federal government affected the numbers significantly. The airport has nine runways and the most among all the international airports. United and American are the primary Airlines in Chicago O’Hare. It also acts as a hub for Air Choice One. It is a focus city for Frontier and Spirit Airlines.

O’Hare has direct flights to over 210 destinations in US, North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. The airport realized a growth of 9.8 to clinch position four in 2015. The airport had a passenger volume of slightly above 76 million in 2015. This airport has faced the problems of passenger congestion for many years. But that will no longer be the case, thanks to the expansion of the runway and development in capacity. Though ORD has had problems with storage places of cargo, they realized a growth of 15.6% in 2015. Recently, the airport added air cargo facilities. It retains its status as a primary facilitator of global trade and link for transfer of goods across the continent.

5. Tokyo Haneda Airport


Located 14 km south of Tokyo Station, Ota Haneda was primary airport serving Tokyo until 1978. From 1978 to 2010, the airport handled most of the domestic flights. Almost all international flights were left to Narita International Airport. Haneda is a hub for Japan Airline, Terminal I and All Nipon Airways, Terminal 2. Air Do, Skymark Airlines, Solaseed Air and StarFlyer also have Haneda as a hub.

In 2010, another terminal was opened and a fourth runway constructed to allow long distance night-flights. In 2014, Haneda started another day-time long haul service. The airlines offered flights to 25 cities in 17 countries. The government of Japan has put measures to encourage the use of Haneda for business trips. Low-cost carriers for those on leisure will go to Narita. In 2015, Haneda Airport flew over 75 million passengers. The passenger throughput makes it rank position five in the world and three in Asia. The airport has a total capacity of 90,000 passengers a year following the expansion in 2010.

6. London Heathrow Airport


This is the busiest international airport in both Europe and the United Kingdom by passenger traffic. It ranks sixth in the whole world. Heathrow Airport is located in Hillingdon, London, England, UK.  It sits 22km west of Central London. The airport has two runways running East-West. London Airport has four terminals number 2-5. Heathrow Airports Holdings are the owners and operators of this public airport.

London Heathrow acts as the major hub for British Airways and the primary operating base for Virgin Atlantic. A third runway is under construction to increase the capacity. The decision was reached after the UK government formed an Airport Commission. The commission was to deliberate on ways to increase the capacity of airports in the UK. Heathrow has over eight airlines that fly 185 destinations in 84 countries in the world. London (LHR) had passenger traffic of 75 million in 2015. That was an increment 2.2% from the previous year. But it dropped from position three in 2014 to six in 2015. The number of aircraft movement were about 474, 000. That marked a 2.7% change.

7. Los Angeles International Airport


Located in Southwestern Los Angeles, Los (LAX) is the largest and busiest airport in the state Canada. Also, it is one of the biggest international airports in the US. Los Angeles World Airports, an agency of the city government, own and operate this airport. LAX had passenger traffic of just below 75 million in 2015 recording an increase of 6% from 2014. That makes the 7th busiest airport in the world. On aircraft movements, LAX also came third in the world. It becomes the only airport in the US to rank for both air cargo and passenger traffic.

Also, the airport has four parallel runways. It acts as a hub for the airlines such as American, Delta, United and Virgin America. Moreover, LAX is also a focus city for Allegiant Air, Quantas, and Air New Zealand. Besides, South West Airline, Spirit Airline, and Volaris also depend on it as the focus city. LAX is the main gateway either to or from Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Oceania. Los (LAX) has nine terminals designed to form a U-shape. Three terminals are underground while the rest are above-ground. Shuttles buses operate the terminals. The airport has 87 domestic connects and 69 international flights.

8. Hong Kong International Airport


Located in Chep Lap Kok, Hong Kong, the airport started operations in 1998. It replaced the closed Kai Tak Airport. Airport Authority Hong Kong own and operate the airport this public airport. Hong Kong (HKG) serves as the hub for Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, and Hong Kong Airlines. The airport is also the home base for Hong Kong Express Airways as well as Air Hong Kong. Air Hong Kong acts as a cargo carrier. HKG also serves as a focus city for several airlines. These include China Airlines, Singapore Airlines, and Air India. Furthermore, the airport has employed over 65,000 people. Hence, it is significant contributor to the economy of Hong Kong.

This airport handled a passenger volume of 68 million in 2015. That was a percentage increase of 8.2%. The airport also climbed the ladder from number ten the previous year to number eight. Regarding cargo traffic, the airport has beaten Mephis International Airport since 2010.

9. Paris International Airport


Also Known as Roissy Airport, Paris (CDG) is the largest international airport in France. It was renamed Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in honor of the leader of the Free French Forces. Charles de Gualle later founded the French Fifth Republic and became president in 1959. Located about 25km to the North East of Paris, it is a hub for both Air France and Delta Air Lines. It is a home base for FedEX Express as well as XL Airways France. Charles de Gualle airport also serves as a focus city for ASL Airline France, EasyJet, Norwegian Air Shuttle and Vueling. The current director is Franck Godnadel. He assumed the position in 2011 after the appointment.

Paris (CDG) recorded a 3.1% rise in the number of passengers from 2014. It had passenger traffic of slightly above 65 million and aircraft movements of 497,000 in 2015. Hence, it emerged number nine in the world. After London Heathrow comes Paris Airport as the busiest airport in Europe. Paris Airport secures the twelfth place regarding cargo traffic in the world. It is the second busiest in cargo volume in Europe carrying handling over 1.8 metric tons in 2015. The airport is a major contributor to the economy of France. It has an economic impact of 29 billion dollars.

10. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport


Finally closing the list of the busiest airports in the world is Dallas Airport. This is the primary international airport that serves Dalla-Fort Worth area, Texas, US. This is the largest home base for American Airlines with headquarters close to the airport. DFW Airport Board operates the airport. Besides, the airport serves as a hub for American Airlines, Ameriflight and UPS Airlines. It is also a focus city for Spirit Airlines and Sun Country Airline.

In 2015, 65 million passengers traveled through DFW. That makes it the tenth busiest airport in the world. In Texas, DFW is the busiest airport concerning passenger traffic and aircraft movements. It comes after George Bush International Airport regarding busyness. DFW has five terminals and 165 gates. The terminal goes from A-E.  Its American Airline makes over 900 flights per day. That makes it the second-biggest airline hub in the world and the US. It comes behind Delta airline in Atlanta airport. In 2014, the airline served 207 destinations in the world. Of those flights, 149 were domestic while 58 were international flights.


The aviation industry is dynamic. That’s why to accommodate the rising demand for air transport, airlines and airport operators are making changes in their markets. Almost all the key airports in the world experienced a growth in passenger traffic. That calls for an increase in passenger capacity and expansion of the runways and also the cargo bays. Hubs in both Middle East and Asia have continued to realize a double-digit growth. The growth comes from the emerging markets served by these hubs. The per capita income has risen and hence the probability of traveling by air also increases.

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