Atlanta Once Again Sits Atop the World’s Busiest Airports List : Business Traveler USA

Eight of the top 10 on the Airports Council International list are in the US, pointing to the resurgence in domestic travel

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has regained its crown as the world’s busiest airport in 2021, after having been toppled from the spot in 2020 by the COVID-19 travel shutdown in the US.

According to year-end statistics from Airports Council International, ATL handled a total of 75.7 million passengers in 2021, an increase of over 76 percent from the year prior, although still a far cry from the 110.5 million travelers that passed through the airport in 2019.

In the latest ACI rankings, eight of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in the US. Atlanta was followed by Dallas/Fort Worth International, which hosted 62.5 million passengers (up 58.7 percent), and Denver International with 58.8 million passengers (a 74.4 percent rise).

Rounding out the top 10 are Chicago O’Hare with 54 million passengers, LAX, which handled 48 million, and Charlotte-Douglas International which hosted 43 million passengers.

Orlando International , two Chinese airports – Guangzhou Baiyun and, Chengdu Shuangliu – and Harry Reid International in Las Vegas each welcomed just over 40 million passengers last year.

All 10 have a significant share of domestic traffic, especially pointing to North America, the region leading the world’s air travel recovery, according to the latest data from the International Air Transport Association.

On the international front, Dubai led all airports in the number of international passengers with 29 million passengers, followed by Istanbul, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Paris, Doha, London, Antalya, Madrid and Cancun.

ACI estimated the total global passenger count in 2021 to be over 2.2 billion fliers, an increase of almost 25 percent from 2020. However that year was the low water mark for aviation, one IATA officially called the worst on record.

So the estimated 2021 passenger numbers still represent less than half of the 2019 traffic during which, according to figures from IATA, 4.5 billion fliers took to the skies.

Still, last year’s passenger traffic numbers point to “an encouraging trend of recovery,” according to ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

“Although we are cautious that recovery could face multiple headwinds, the momentum created by reopening plans by countries could lead to an uptick in travel in the second half of 2022,” de Oliveira said. “ACI World continues to advocate to governments to follow the data and ease travel restrictions to safely restore the movement of people, goods, and services.”