May 28, 2024
Aviation Business

The World’s Top 10 Busiest Airports In 2023

International Travel Demand Surges

The Airports Council International (ACI) World has revealed the preliminary top 10 busiest airports globally for 2023, shedding light on notable shifts propelled by the resurgence of international air travel following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top 10 airport rankings are based on comprehensive data collected from over 2,600 airports across more than 180 countries and territories globally.

The year 2023 witnessed a remarkable recovery in global air travel, with the total passenger forecast nearing 8.5 billion, marking a striking recovery of 93.8% from pre-pandemic levels.

Notably, the recovery in international traffic approached parity with domestic travel, underscoring its pivotal role in revitalising the aviation industry.

Passengers head for an escalator at DXB International Airport. Credit: Arnold Pinto

The influx of passengers at international airports played a central role in revitalising hubs reliant on this segment, reshaping the landscape of the top 10 busiest airports for total passengers.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World Director General, said: “The global air travel resurgence in 2023 was predominantly driven by international traffic, fuelled by various factors including the anticipated reopening of China and a growing inclination towards travel despite prevailing macroeconomic conditions.”

United States Leads

While established leaders from the United States continue to dominate the top rankings, such as Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport retaining its top position, noteworthy shifts have occurred.

Tourism posters at Goa International Airport in Dabolim, Goa, India. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Dubai International Airport (DXB) ascended to the second rank for the first time, while Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) witnessed a remarkable climb from 16th in 2022 to 5th in 2023.

Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports (operator of DXB), said: “Our commitment to operational excellence has set new benchmarks, cementing DXB’s position as a leading entity in global aviation. This remarkable achievement underscores Dubai’s collaborative ethos. Our success owes much to the collective efforts of all service partners within the airport community and the broader aviation, travel, and tourism sectors.”

Emirates’ flights’ schedule at DXB International Airport’s Terminal 3 in Dubai, UAE. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Additionally, the steadfast performance of Istanbul and New Delhi airports secured their positions at the forefront, signalling substantial progress over 2019.

World’s 10 Busiest Airports In 2023 (Passengers):

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL): 104.7 million passengers; up 11.7% YoY
  2. Dubai, UAE (DXB): 87 million passengers; up 31.7% YoY
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW): 81.8 million passengers; up 11.4% YoY
  4. London Heathrow, UK (LHR): 79.2 million passengers; up 28.5% YoY
  5. Tokyo Haneda, Japan (HND): 78.7 million passengers; up 55.1% YoY
  6. Denver (DEN): 77.8 million passengers; up 12.3% YoY
  7. Istanbul, Turkey (IST): 76 million passengers; up 18.3% YoY
  8. Los Angeles (LAX): 75.1 million passengers; up 13.8% YoY
  9. Chicago O’Hare (ORD): 73.9 million passengers; up 8.1% YoY
  10. Delhi, India (DEL): 72.2 million passengers; up 21.4% YoY

The rankings also shed light on the resilience of cargo traffic in global commerce despite a year-over-year decrease.

Hong Kong International Airport maintained its leading position, followed by Memphis International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Doha International Airport re-entered the top 10, surging to number 8 with a growth of 6.3% over 2019.

Passengers at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain. Credit: Arnold Pinto

These rankings underscore the pivotal role of these transportation hubs in fostering global connectivity, commerce, and economic development. Airports have demonstrated resilience and adaptability amidst the challenges posed by the evolving landscape of international travel.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has attained the second rank for the first time. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Passenger Traffic Highlights (2023):

  • Global total passengers in 2023 approached 8.5 billion, with a 27.2% increase from 2022 or a recovery of 93.8% from pre-pandemic levels (2019).
  • The domestic market grew by 20.2%, nearing a complete recovery of 96.8% from 2019, while the international market exhibited a growth rate of 36.5%, reaching 90.4% of 2019 levels.
  • The top 10 airports, representing close to 10% of global traffic, witnessed a gain of 19.8% from 2022 or a 0.7% increase vis-à-vis 2019 results.

Cargo Traffic Highlights (2023):

  • Air cargo volumes in 2023 decreased 3.1% year over year (-4.6% versus 2019), totalling close to 113 million metric tonnes.
  • The top 10 airports, representing approximately 26% of global volumes in 2023, witnessed a 3.5% decline in cargo traffic year-over-year.

Aircraft Movements (2023):

  • Global aircraft movements in 2023 approached 95 million, marking an 11.8% increase from 2022 or a recovery of 92.7% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • The top 10 airports, representing over 6% of global traffic, experienced a 7.4% gain from 2022 or a recovery of 96.4% vis-à-vis 2019 results.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will host the 2024 ACI World Customer Experience Summit and Exhibition in Atlanta, United States, from September 23 to 26, 2024.

Duty-free display at Sharjah International Airport in Sharjah, UAE. Credit: Arnold Pinto

Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, is a federated organisation comprising ACI World, ACI Africa, ACI Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, ACI EUROPE, ACI Latin America and the Caribbean, and ACI North America.

Representing airports’ best interests during critical policy development phases, ACI contributes significantly to ensuring a global air transport system that is safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally sustainable. As of January 2024, ACI serves 757 members, operating 2,109 airports in 191 countries.

Featured image: An aircraft departs the passenger terminal at Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain. Credit: Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto

    Arnold Pinto is an award-winning journalist with wide-ranging Middle East and Asia experience in the tech, aerospace, defence, luxury watchmaking, business, automotive, and fashion verticals. He is passionate about conserving endangered native wildlife globally. Arnold enjoys 4x4 off-roading, camping and exploring global destinations off the beaten track.
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