America’s new busiest airport is Dallas/Fort Worth, at least for now

Jun 5, 2020

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Coronavirus is making for all kinds of new superlatives in the airline world. The latest? A new airport was crowned America’s busiest last month.

Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), American’s fortress hub in Texas, saw the most commercial service of any airport in the nation in May, The Dallas Morning News reported.

That title has long been held by either Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) or Chicago O’Hare (ORD). But not in May. As airlines pared down their schedules, air traffic patterns shifted.

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DFW saw 12,132 departures in May, according to data from travel analysis company OAG, cited by the Morning News. That traffic was largely thanks to American Airlines, which operated 11,109 of those flights, according to Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for AA.

DFW’s traffic was significantly ahead of Chicago O’Hare (ORD), the second-busiest, which had 8,596 flights in May, according to OAG.

Even so, the total number of flights at DFW last month were just a fraction of the traffic numbers the airport saw in May 2019. For comparison, American alone operated 24,395 departures out of DFW in May of 2019.

Last year: It’s now official: Atlanta is the world’s busiest airport. Again…

DFW’s takeover of the No. 1 spot wasn’t the only unusual airport superlative recently. In late April, Alaska’s Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport was able to claim it was the busiest in the world — albeit just for one day — as global airline schedules unwound during the coronavirus pandemic.

Typically, the number of annual passengers is usually the most common barometer in determining the busiest airport. But the number of flights also is frequently used. For much of this century, either Atlanta or O’Hare has held at least one of those titles, with Atlanta often claiming both in recent years.

Related: American says goodbye to shortest domestic route crown with new flexibility to drop cities

As for DFW, its days at the top are likely to be numbered as demand for travel slowly rebounds. Even DFW’s own website still bills it as the fourth-busiest airport in the country.

But, for a brief moment in this pandemic, Dallas seems to have been home to both the country’s busiest airport and the world’s largest airline — Southwest.

For now, everything really is bigger in Texas.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

More: How far can airborne covid germs really spread on a plane?

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