Based on reports from 1,144 airports worldwide, Airports Council International announced the most-travelled airports in 2015. At the top spot, there is no change; Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) continues to be world's busiest passenger airport.
Growing by 5.5% year over year in passenger traffic to the record-breaking total of over 100 million passengers in 2015, Atlanta has benefitted tremendously from its strategic location as a major connecting hub and port of entry into North America. The airport is within a two-hour flight of 80% of the United States population.
Atlanta also owes its strides in throughput to its major operator, Delta Air Lines. Coupled with efficiency gains in the deployment of its aircraft fleet, the airline has continued to make inroads into the American domestic market. While Beijing (PEK) was poised to close the gap on ATL by 2015, it no longer benefits from the double-digit growth it enjoyed in previous years, and as such remains in second position. The combination of a Chinese slowdown and capacity constraints has meant lower growth levels at the airport. PEK grew by 4.4% in total passenger traffic. At the same time, Shanghai (PVG), the second-largest airport for throughput in China, grew by 16.3% in 2015. With an added runway and increased slot capacity, PVG was the fastest growing airport among the world's top 20.
Dubai (DXB) is the third busiest airport
Moving from the sixth busiest airport in 2014 to the third position in 2015 is Dubai (DXB). Total passenger traffic at the airport grew by 10.7% in 2015. The airport is also the world's busiest in terms of international passengers ahead of London-Heathrow (LHR). Dubai has become the fulcrum that connects long-haul international flights from east and west, north and south. Chicago O'Hare (ORD) moved up to become the fourth-ranked airport in 2015 from seventh position in 2014, with growth last year of 9.8%. After years of congestion, the airport is reaping the benefits of runway expansions and other capacity developments.
The world's largest air cargo hub continues to be Hong Kong (HKG, +0.4%). Memphis (MEM, +0.8%) is in the second spot followed by PVG (+2.9%). Despite apparent pockets of weakness in the air cargo markets, ORD experienced robust growth of 15.6% in 2015. With recently expanded air cargo facilities, the airport maintains its status as a major nexus for global trade and a link to the multimodal transfer of goods across the continent. Doha (DOH), a major Middle Eastern airport and one of the fastest growing airports in the world, entered the top 20 given a jump of 46% in air cargo volumes in 2015.
ATL (+1.6%) has become the world's busiest airport for aircraft movements following a drop in movements at the second ranked ORD (-0.8%) in 2015. PVG had the highest growth in movements at 11.5% in 2015.
Summary: Preliminary year-over-year growth for 2015, compared to 2014
Total passengers: +6.1%
Total international passengers: +6.3%
Total cargo (includes mail): +2.4%
Total international freight: +2.2%
Total aircraft movements: +1.8%