10 Busiest Airports in the World by Passenger Traffic
Air travel should be the fastest mode of transport. But navigating the hallways of certain airports may seem like an eternity, thanks to the sea of humanity using those airports on an average day. That’s why some of these airports invest heavily in better technology for enhanced security, as well as modern amenities to keep their passengers entertained as they prepare to leave for their various destinations.
In this article, we shall unveil the top ten busiest airports in 2020 by passenger volume. The list is based on 2019 figures by the Airports Council International (ACI).
Table of Contents
1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Passenger Traffic: 110, 531, 300
Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest airport in the world by passenger volume and the second-busiest in terms of aircraft movement. Since its opening in September 1980, the airport has witnessed a consistent rise in passenger traffic over the years.
One of the reasons behind Hartsfield-Jackson’s popularity is the airport’s strategic location within a 2-hour flight from over 80% of the U.S population. In fact, domestic flights account for most of the airport’s overall passenger volume.
Hartsfield–Jackson is also located within various points of interest. For instance, the High Museum and the kid-friendly Center for Puppetry Arts are only a few minutes’ drive from the airport.
2. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
Passenger Traffic: 100,011,438
Designed in the shape of a dragon, Beijing Capital International Airport is an architectural marvel in its own right. It’s Asia’s busiest airport and the second-busiest on the planet, closely following Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in terms of passenger activity.
The airport’s Terminal 3, which was added as part of the 2008 Summer Olympics preparation, is one of the world’s largest buildings.
Beijing Capital International Airport is also the main operational hub for Air China, which flies to over 120 global destinations.
3. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
Passenger Traffic: 88,068,013
Los Angeles International Airport is the busiest airport on the U.S West Coast, and the third-busiest in the world. It’s also the world’s busiest origin and destination airport. Which means that compared to other airports on this list, more passengers use LAX to begin and end their flights than as a connection airport.
Despite its location, this airport is a gateway to tons of national and international destinations, particularly Asia, Europe, and the Pacific.
Los Angeles International Airport is also the resident airport for The Private Suit. The Private Suit is a prestigious members’ club that costs $4,500 in annual subscription and an additional minimum transport cost of $2,700 per flight.
4. Dubai International Airport (DXB)
Passenger Traffic: 86,396,757
It comes as no surprise that the second-busiest airport in Asia is located strategically in one of the world’s fastest-growing cities. Dubai International Airport also holds the record for the busiest airport in the world in terms of international passengers, as well as one of the busiest in terms of connecting flights.
The airport’s Terminal 3, whose construction came to an end in 2008, was the world’s largest building until 2013.
Dubai International Airport is also home to Dubai Duty Free, which has been the most commercially successful retail business in the world for some time. In 2013 alone, Dubai Duty Free generated $1.8 billion in revenues.
5. Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)
Passenger Traffic: 85,505,054
Also known as Tokyo International Airport, Tokyo Haneda Airport handles more domestic than international flights.
Tokyo Haneda has consistently ranked among the world’s top ten busiest airports, often switching places with Los Angeles International Airport and Dubai International Airport.
And now that the Japanese government has successfully won the bid to host the Tokyo Haneda Airport, we can only expect an astronomical increase in Tokyo Haneda’s passenger volume.
6. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
Passenger Traffic: 84,649,115
Chicago O’Hare International Airport lies to the northwest of Chicago. The airport was opened in 1955 and has remained one of the world’s most significant transportation hubs.
Chicago O’Hare serves about forty different airlines and offers direct flights to over sixty global destinations.
While it ranks the sixth-busiest airport in the world by passenger volume, Chicago O’Hare is actually the busiest in terms of takeoffs and landings. So, more aircrafts fly to this airport than any other on this list.
7. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
Passenger Traffic: 80,888,305
London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in Europe and the seventh-busiest in the world. It’s arguably the preeminent gateway destination to Europe.
In fact, for several years, LHR held the record for the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger activity. In 2019, some 80 million passengers used the airport.
Presently, London Heathrow Airport serves at least 185 destinations in more than 80 countries. The airport is also fairly large. It features six terminals, with one specially dedicated to VVIPs like royals, heads of state, and certain celebrities.
8. Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
Passenger Traffic: 74.7 million in 2018 and 71.5 million in 2019
Hong Kong International Airport is not only busy in terms of passenger activity, but also the capacity of air cargo handled annually. In 2018 alone, the airport handled air cargo worth over 5 million metric tons. That’s why it ranks eighth on this list despite tailing in the number of passenger activity. If both passenger traffic and air cargo capacity are considered, HKG emerges as busier than Shanghai Pudong and Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
The airport’s activity may have declined in 2019 following pro-democracy protests for nearly half of the year, many of which happened right within the airport precincts.
But since then, there have been continued efforts to pitch Hong Kong as a prime tourist and investment decision in the world. So, it’s safe to infer that HKG is definitely on course for claiming its rightful place among the busiest airports in the world.
9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)
Passenger Traffic: 76,153,455
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is a prime transportation hub, particularly in China and the Far East. It’s one the region’s two international airports, the other one being Shanghai Hongqiao International.
But unlike Shanghai Hongqiao International that mostly handles domestic and regional flights, Shanghai Pudong International Airport leans more towards international flights.
PVG is also one of the busiest in terms of annual air cargo capacity. In 2018, the airport handled approximately 3 million metric tons of air cargo.
10. Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
Passenger Traffic: 76,150,009
Also known as Roissy Airport, Charles de Gaulle is France’s busiest airport and the second-busiest in Europe, coming second after London Heathrow. The airport was completed in 1974 and named after the former French president and general, Charles de Gaulle.
Charles de Gaulle is the principal hub for Air France and Delta Air Lines.
CDG is also an impressive piece of architecture. Its Terminal 1, which is famous for its unique rotunda design that’s enclosed by seven satellite buildings, is one of the airport’s defining features.
There goes our definitive list of the world’s busiest airports. Suffice to mention that these airports also happen to be some of the safest on the planet.