ACI World Airport Traffic Report reveals World’s busiest airports in 2015

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

dubai intl airport

The 2015 ACI World Airport Traffic Report with comprehensive data coverage for over 2,300 airports in 160 countries worldwide says that persistence and resilience are two themes that best describe air transport demand in 2015.

The large increase in passenger traffic of 6.4% represents the strongest growth rate since 2010 (6.6%), the year in which it rebounded from the Great Recession. In fact, despite a slight weakening of economic growth at 3.1% in 2015, growth in passenger traffic approached the pre-recessionary growth levels that were seen in 2004 to 2007. International tourism in particular was irrepressible in 2015, even considering the geopolitical risks that persisted in certain parts of the world, such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East. By and large, the international traveller appears to have discounted these risks. Air cargo markets were weaker compared with passenger markets, achieving a modest 2.6% growth in total volumes for 2015. This was the result of subdued growth in emerging markets and developing economies, coupled with a more modest recovery in advanced economies.

World’s busiest airports

While there were 16 airports with over 40 million passengers in 2005, this number has more than doubled and risen to a total of 37 airports by 2015. Collectively, the club of airports has achieved a growth of 6% year-over-year in passenger traffic for 2015.

Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World said, “While this represents an important feat for the world’s busiest airports and the economic vitality of the region’s they serve, the downside of airline capacity shifts towards major connecting hubs in certain markets is that smaller regional airports lose out on traffic with a reduction in nonstop destinations between cities. It is important to highlight that the reason smaller airports remain in operation hinges on the idea that they contribute to the local, social and economic development of their surrounding communities. Strategies to ensure their sustainability are equally important in guaranteeing a well-rounded aviation system,”.

Key statistics in brief

Passenger traffic

  • Worldwide airport passenger numbers increased 6.4% in 2015 to almost 7.2 billion, registering increases in all six regions.
  • The top spot in the busiest airports list for 2015 continued to belong to Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL). Growing 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 population in the United States.
  • Airport traffic in emerging markets and developing economies grew faster (8.1%) than in advanced economies (5.2%) in 2015, with emerging markets reaching a 44% share of global passenger traffic.
  • During 2015, the highest number of passengers went through airports in the Asia-Pacific region:

1. Asia-Pacific (2.46 billion, up 8.6% over 2014)

2. Europe (1.93 billion, up 5.2% over 2014)

3. North America (1.72 billion, up 5.3% over 2014)

4. Latin America-Caribbean (571 million, up 5.3% over 2014)

5. Middle East (334 million, up 9.6% over 2014)

6. Africa (180 million, up 0.6% over 2014)

  • With over 1.5 billion passengers, BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which represent 21.4% of global passenger traffic, achieved a strong growth of 8.2% in passenger traffic. MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) achieved a 5.5% increase for passenger traffic in 2015.
  • The world’s top 30 airport cities handled almost one-third of global passenger traffic. London remained the world’s largest airport system with over 155 million passengers handled at six airports. New York maintained the second position with 123 million passengers at three airports. Tokyo was the third city market with 113 million passengers.
  • heathrow t2 queenThe world’s busiest international airports (measured by international passenger traffic):

1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates – DXB (77.5 million, up 10.7% over 2014)

2. London, United Kingdom – LHR (69.8 million, up 2.5% over 2014)

3. Hong Kong, China – HKG (68.1 million, up 8.2% over 2014)

  • The world’s busiest domestic airports (measured by domestic passenger traffic):

1. Atlanta GA, USA – ATL (90.3 million, up 5.7% over 2014)

2. Beijing, China (People’s Republic of China) – PEK (71.3 million, up 3.0% over 2014)

3. Chicago IL, USA – ORD (65.9 million, up 11.2% over 2014)

Aircraft movements

  • atlanta airport aerialWorldwide aircraft movements increased by 2% in 2015 to 88.5 million, with mixed levels of growth across all six regions.
  • Atlanta (ATL) regained its position and became the busiest airport in terms of aircraft movements, followed by Chicago (ORD) and Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW).
  • Airports in the North American region recorded the highest number of movements during 2015:

1. North America (30.1 million, up 0.3% over 2014)

2. Europe (22.8 million, up 1.8% over 2014)

3. Asia-Pacific (21 million, up 5.8% over 2014)

4. Latin America-Caribbean (8.9 million, down 0.9% over 2014)

5. Africa (3 million, down 1.4% over 2014)

6. Middle East (2.7 million, up 6.9% over 2014)



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