Watch Out, Atlanta Airport: Beijing Is Coming for You

Sep 20, 2018

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Once again, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) is the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic, according to 2017 data released Thursday by Airports Council International. Atlanta has held the uncontested title since 1998 — but it may lose it soon, as air traffic growth keeps booming in China. Beijing is getting very close to the top spot.

Overall passenger traffic worldwide increased 7.5% to 8.3 billion in 2017 – one of the strongest growth rates in aviation history. Out of those 8.3 billion travelers, Atlanta International Airport personally accounted for just under 104 million – the only airport to break the 100-million mark. However, the airport saw a slight decrease in year-on-year passenger traffic, with a small drop of 0.3% from 2016 numbers. Beijing, in contrast, grew 1.5% to 95 million. Atlanta was the only airport among the top 20 to actually lose traffic last year.

Worldwide aircraft movements increased by 3% to 95.8 million.

The top US airport for cargo is Memphis (MEM), with 4.3 million metric tons of cargo processed in 2017 — the Tennessee city is the biggest hub for FedEx. Hong Kong (HKG) remains the world’s largest cargo hub with 5.1 million metric tons of processed cargo.

The Busiest Airports of 2017 by Passenger Traffic

RANK in 2017 RANK in 2016 AIRPORT CITY / COUNTRY / CODE PASSENGERS: Departing and Arriving PASSENGERS: Percent change
1 1 ATLANTA GA, US (ATL) 103.9 million -0.3
2 2 BEIJING, CN (PEK) 95.8 million 1.5
3 3 DUBAI, AE (DXB) 88 million 5.5
4 5 TOKYO, JP (HND) 85 million 6.5
5 4 LOS ANGELES CA, US (LAX) 84.6 million 4.5
6 6 CHICAGO IL, US (ORD) 79.8 million 2.4
7 7 LONDON, GB (LHR) 78 million 3
8 8 HONG KONG, HK (HKG) 72.6 million 3.4
9 9 SHANGHAI, CN (PVG) 70 million 6.1
10 10 PARIS, FR (CDG) 69.5 million 5.4
11 12 AMSTERDAM, NL (AMS) 68.5 million 7.7
12 11 DALLAS/FORT WORTH TX, US (DFW) 67.1 million 2.3
13 15 GUANGZHOU, CN (CAN) 65.9 million 10.3
14 13 FRANKFURT, DE (FRA) 64.5 million 6.1
15 14 ISTANBUL, TR (IST) 64.1 million 6.1
16 22 NEW DELHI, IN (DEL) 63.5 million 14.1
17 19 JAKARTA, ID (CGK) 63 million 8.3
18 17 SINGAPORE, SG (SIN) 62 million 6
19 20 INCHEON, KR (ICN) 62 million 7.5
20 18 DENVER CO, US (DEN) 61 million 5.3
TOTAL 1.47 billion 5.2

 

Featured photo of the Atlanta airport by Getty Images.

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