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ACI World traffic data reveals the busiest airports on the planet in 2022


ACI World today reveals the the Top 10 busiest airports on the planet for passenger traffic, cargo and aircraft movements in 2022.

It notes that each Top 10 welcomed back some of the world’s largest hubs, particularly in terms of passenger throughput, following the global re-opening of borders to international traffic.

Passenger traffic

The top four airports actually remained the same as 2021, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL) welcoming  93.7 million passengers (+23.8%) to retain top spot in 2022 followed by Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) with 73.4 million (+17.5%), Denver (DEN) in third with 69.3 million (+17.8%), and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) in fourth with 68.3 million (+26.5%).

However, then, with the exception of Los Angeles (LAX) in sixth place with 65.9 million (+37.3%), the remainder of the Top 10 was made up of airports either regaining their previously held status among the world’s busiest gateways – Dubai (DXB), London Heathrow (LHR) and Paris CDG (CDG) – or continuing their rapid upward trajectory for passenger growth such as Istanbul (IST) and Delhi (DEL).

From the top 10 airports globally, five are in the United States. They all have significant domestic passenger shares (between 75% and 95% domestic traffic).

The biggest jump in the Top 10 was recorded by London Heathrow, which rose from 54th position in the rankings in 2021 to eighth following the re-opening of borders after two years of closures.

ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said: “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.

“While US 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.

“While we continue to march forward cautiously amidst multiple headwinds that could impact the speed and magnitude of global air traffic recovery, the latest rankings represent an important milestone in reaching pre-pandemic levels.

“The re-opening of China, the second largest aviation market after the US, is now expected to bring an overall gain, both domestically and for international travel.

“The ongoing recovery of air travel demand would not be possible without the continuous work of airports to provide a safe, secure, efficient, and sustainable air transport ecosystem for the passengers that we depend on and the communities we serve.

“ACI World will remain committed to representing the best interests of airports on the global stage during key phases of policy development and to promoting airport excellence.”

Preliminary figures indicate that with the resumption of international travel, global passenger traffic soared by 53.5% to close to seven billion passengers in 2022 – 73.8% of the total handled in 2019.

Cargo traffic

Air cargo volumes are estimated to have decreased by 6.7% year-over-year (-1.7% versus 2019), to close to 117 million metric tonnes in 2022.

Air cargo volumes in the top 10 airports for air cargo traffic – representing around 27% (30.8 million 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).

The decline can be attributed to the ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global trade and supply chains.

Hong Kong (HKG) with 4.2 million tonnes (+16.4%) remained in the top ranked airport followed by Memphis (MEM) with 4.0 million (-9.8%) and Anchorage (ANC) with 3.5 million (-4.3%). Shanghai Pudong (PVG) slipped from top spot to fourth after handling 3.1 million tonnes of cargo (-21.7%) in 2022.

Aircraft movements

The world’s airports handled close to 89 million aircraft movements in 2022 – 20.4% more than in 2021. This represents a recovery of 82.5% from pre-pandemic levels (2019).

The top 10 airports for aircraft movements, representing close to 7% of global traffic (5.7 million movements), witnessed a gain of 11.4% from their 2021 results, recovering to 91.5% vis-à-vis their 2019 results (6.2 million in 2019).

ATL once again topped the rankings with 724,000 aircraft movements (+2.3% from 2021), although the total is less than it handled in 2019 when it finished second to Chicago O’Hare.


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