The World’s Busiest Airport Is No Longer In The U.S. — It’s In China

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Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International, which has been the world’s busiest airport for 20 years straight, has lost its throne due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now, the world’s busiest airport is Guangzhou Bai Run International Airport in China, according to Airports Council International (ACI).

The organization recently published its world airport traffic rankings – covering passenger traffic, cargo volumes, and aircraft movements for 2020 – showing the dramatic impact of COVID-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports.

Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the United States just behind.

Seven of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in China with three in the United States, according to ACI.

Most passengers in busiest airports

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas and Denver, Colorado are the other two airports in the top 10 world’s busiest airports, showing that the airports in the world with the most passengers are in the United States and China.

For international passengers, Dubai International Airport ranked No 1, followed by Amsterdam International then London Heathrow.

busiest international airports

“The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said in a press release. “The data published today reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.”

Air cargo was less impacted by COVID 19, with volumes decreasing by only -8.9%, to an estimated 109 million metric tonnes in 2020, equivalent to 2016 levels (110 million metric tonnes).

Air cargo volumes in the top 10 airports grew by +3% in 2020. These airports represent around 28% (30.6 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes in 2020. The gain can be attributed to the increase in demand for online consumer goods and pharmaceutical products and personal protective equipment. With a +6.7% increase, Memphis International Airport surpassed Hong Kong International Airport.

ACI World estimates that there were 58 million global aircraft movements in 2020, representing a drop of -43% from 2019. The top 10 airports represent 7% of global traffic (4.2 million movements) and experienced a drop of -34.3% compared to 2019. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport surpassed Chicago O’Hare International Airport, after leading in 2019 and 2018.

Guangzhou Bai Run International Airport receives major transit passengers.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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