Atlanta Airport Retains Title As World’s Busiest

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The four busiest airports in the world in terms of passenger traffic remained the same in 2022 as in 2021, with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International (ATL) again leading the way, according to ACI World.

The global airports organization revealed the top 10 airports for 2022, with U.S. airports claiming the top four spots in terms of most passengers handled. Following ATL, which handled 93.7 million passengers in 2022— still down 15.2% on 2019—were Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) at 73.4 million passengers; Denver (DEN) at 69.3 million; and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) at 68.3 million. 

Breaking the U.S. grip was Dubai (DXB), which handled 66.1 million passengers in 2022, down 23.5% from 2019. Los Angeles (LAX) came in sixth at 65.9 million passengers handled in 2022, down 25.1% from 2019, when LAX was the third-busiest airport in the world.

Rounding out the top 10 airports in 2022 for passenger traffic were Istanbul (IST), London Heathrow (LHR), New Delhi (DEL) and Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG).

Of the top 10, only Denver handled more passengers in 2022 versus 2019. The top 10 airports represented 10% of global traffic in 2022 and were 85.9% recovered compared to 2019, according to ACI World. 

ACI World points out that the five U.S. airports in the top 10 all have significant domestic traffic—with domestic passengers comprising 75-95% of each airport’s 2022 passenger numbers. In fact, when only international passengers are counted, no U.S. airport ranked in the top 10 globally. 

The top international passenger airport in 2022 was DXB, followed by London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS), CDG, IST, Frankfurt (FRA), Madrid (MAD), Doha (DOH), Singapore Changi (SIN) and London Gatwick (LGW).

“The new top 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic reflects the resilience of the airport and aviation industry and the eagerness of passengers to travel by air,” ACI World DG Luis Felipe de Oliveira says in a statement. “While U.S. airport hubs were able to recover quicker due to their strong domestic market, we are now witnessing global hubs joining upper ranks—including Dubai, Istanbul and London Heathrow airports.”

He adds the world's airports “continue to march forward cautiously amidst multiple headwinds that could impact the speed and magnitude of global air traffic recovery.” 

Hong Kong (HKG) was the busiest cargo airport in the world in 2022, according to ACI World, handling 4.2 million metric tonnes. Next was FedEx Express hub Memphis (MEM) at 4 million metric tonnes, followed by Anchorage (ANC) and Shanghai Pudong (PVG).

“Air cargo volumes in the top 10 airports for air cargo traffic—representing around 27% (30.8 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes in 2022—lost 9.9% in 2022 year-over-year (but kept a gain of 4.1% versus 2019 results),” ACI World says. “The decline can be attributed to the ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global trade and supply chains.”

In terms of total aircraft movements, nine of the top 10 airports in 2022 were in the U.S., with only IST breaking in at number 10. ATL had the most movements in 2022, followed by ORD, DFW, DEN, Las Vegas (LAS), LAX, Charlotte (CLT), Miami (MIA) and New York Kennedy (JFK). 

ACI World previously reported that the world’s airports handled 6.6 billion passengers in 2022, which was 71.7% of 2019 level. ACI World forecasts global airports will handle 92% of 2019 passenger numbers this year.

Aaron Karp

Aaron Karp is a Contributing Editor to the Aviation Week Network.