The 20 most important and busiest airports in the world

21 April 2016 3 min. read
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Heathrow is on the sixth spot in the list of the busiest airports in the world. In 2015 around 75 million passengers travelled to, from or via London’s Heathrow airport – around 1.5 million more than in 2014. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the busiest airport of the globe, and, for the first time, passed the mark of 100 million passengers.

The international aviation industry is growing. Recent research from Cavok, the aviation consulting subsidiary of Oliver Wyman, found that the number of aircraft worldwide will rise by an average of 3.7% per year over the next decade. With the expansion of their fleets, airlines are meeting the growing needs of people from around the world who seek to travel internationally. New figures from the Airports Council International (ACI) shows that last year the top 20 busiest airports in the world transported more than 1.34 billion passengers – an increase of over 5% compared to the previous year.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta in the US is by far the busiest airport in the world. In 2015, the airport for the first time surpassed 100 million passengers, and, with a grand total of nearly 101.5 million, more than 5 million higher than the 2014 figure. The airport is an important transit hub for flights because of its central location – according to ACI, 80% of the US population is within a two hour flight radius of Hartsfield. Beijing Capital International Airport, in China, is in second place, with just under 90 million passengers, while Dubai International Airport is in third place, with around 78 million passengers. Since 2014, Dubai International Airport has seen its passenger numbers rise by 7.5 million, representing an increase of over 10%, resulting in a placement jump from sixth place.

The top five is closed by O'Hare Airport in Chicago and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport in Japan. London’s Heathrow Airport is in sixth place, and is the first European airport – facilitating just less than 75 million passengers. In 2014 Heathrow was still in third place, but has since been overtaken by Dubai, Haneda and O'Hare. The only other European airport included in the top 10 is Paris-Charles de Gaulle (#9) with 65.8 million passengers.

Three additional European airports make the top 20. With about 61.3 million passengers Ataturk Airport, in Istanbul, takes the 11th spot, followed by Frankfurt Airport, with 61 million passengers. In 2014 Atatürk was ranked lower than Frankfurt, but is growing much faster than its German rival, up by 8% compared to less than 2.5%. At #13 is Shanghai Pudong, the fastest growing airport in the top 20. Compared to 2014, the Chinese airport welcomed almost 8.5 million more passengers – an increase of over 16%. Schiphol, the airport of the Dutch capital Amsterdam, follows with more than 58 million passengers in fourteenth place.

Besides Dubai, O'Hare and Shanghai, there is another airport in the top 20 list that last year saw double-digit growth in passenger numbers. Savarnabhumi Thailand closes off the top 20, with passenger numbers of almost 53 million – an increase of almost 14% compared to its 46 million passengers in 2014.