ACI World Reveals Top 10 Busiest Airports in 2023

Airports Council International (ACI) World has unveiled preliminary data indicating the top 10 busiest airports worldwide for 2023.

Notably, this data showcases significant shifts in travel patterns driven by the rise of international air travel following the pandemic. For example, Asia-Pacific and Middle East hubs are now growing in strength alongside the existing success of US leaders.

Busiest Airports
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) remained the world’s busiest airport for passenger volumes

According to ACI’s data, the global total passenger forecast for 2023 stands close to 8.5 billion, reflecting a recovery of 93.8 percent from pre-pandemic levels. This recovery is particularly prominent with international traffic over domestic traffic. The influx of passengers at international airports is therefore significant in shaping the top 10 busiest airports.

Passenger Traffic

The 2023 global total for passenger numbers increased by 27.2 percent from 2022, with the domestic market growing by 20.2 percent and the international market increasing by 36.5 percent. The top 10 airports represented close to 10 percent of traffic with 808 million passengers.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) maintained its top position in this list, but was followed by Dubai International Airport (DXB) in second for the first time, surpassing Dallas Forth Worth International (DFW) Airport in third.

The top 10 airports for passenger numbers
The top 10 airports for passenger numbers

The biggest jump in the top 10 rankings is recorded by Tokyo Haneda (HND), moving from 16th position to third. However, the US continues to be a leader in this field, holding 5 of the top 1o spots.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said:

“Global air travel in 2023 was chiefly fuelled by the international segment, propelled by several factors. Among these were the anticipated benefits from China’s reopening and a growing inclination towards travel despite macroeconomic conditions. While perennial leaders from the US continue to dominate the top 10 busiest airports for passengers, notably Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport retaining its number one position, there are notable shifts. Dubai International Airport jumped to second rank for the first time, while Tokyo Haneda International Airport witnessed a remarkable ascent from 16th position in 2022 to 5th in 2023. Additionally, the unwavering strength of Istanbul and New Delhi airports keep them in top ranks, marking significant progress over 2019.”

Cargo Traffic

In 2023, global air cargo volumes saw a decrease of 3.1 percent compared to the previous year, amounting to nearly 113 million metric tonnes. This drop was even steeper at 4.6 percent when compared to 2019 levels.

Within the top 10 air cargo hubs worldwide, which collectively represented about 26 percent (29.6 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes, there was a 3.5 percent decrease compared to the prior year. This decline can be attributed to ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions in global trade and supply chains.

Hong Kong International Airport maintained its position as the busiest airport for cargo traffic, followed by Memphis International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Anchorage Airport claimed the 4th spot, with Incheon International Airport following in 5th.

The top airports in 2023 for cargo traffic
The top airports in 2023 for cargo traffic
ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira added:

“Notably, cargo continues to play a key role in world commerce despite the year-over-year decrease. Hong Kong International Airport has maintained the top position, followed by Memphis International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Doha International Airport rejoins the top 10, jumping to number 8 with a growth of 6.3% over 2019.”

Aircraft Movements

In 2023, global aircraft movements totalled close to 95 million, representing a gain of 11.8 percent from 2022.

ACI's data on aircraft movements
ACI’s data on aircraft movements

The top 10 airports represented over 6 percent of global traffic with 6 million movements. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranked at the top, followed by Chicago O’Hare Airport in second, and Dallas Fort Worth International Airport in third.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira concluded:

“The rankings highlight the crucial role these transportation hubs play in global connectivity, commerce, and economic development. Airports continue to demonstrate their resilience and adaptability amidst the challenges posed by the ever-evolving landscape of global travel. ACI World remains dedicated to advocating for airports worldwide throughout pivotal stages of policy formulation and to advancing the pursuit of airport excellence.”

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