Atlanta Airport is Still World's Busiest, Global Airport Stats Show

Atlanta Airport

Although its traffic was down 1.1 percent in 2013, compared to 2012, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remains the busiest airport in the world, hosting 94.4 million passengers last year, according to Airports Council International (ACI), which yesterday published the 2013 edition of its annual "World Airport Traffic Report."

Encompassing data from nearly 2,000 airports in 160 countries, ACI's report found that airport passenger numbers grew by 4.6 percent last year, reaching a total of 6.3 billion passengers worldwide.

Behind Atlanta, the world's busiest airports were Beijing Capital International Airport (83.7 billion passengers), London Heathrow Airport (72.3 billion passengers), Tokyo Haneda Airport (68.9 billion passengers), Chicago O'Hare International Airport (66.7 billion passengers), and Los Angeles International Airport (66.6 billion passengers).

"With many major economies remaining in a fragile state, 2013 can best be characterized as a year of unstable recovery for the global economy," ACI Director General Angela Gittens said in a statement. "Despite this challenging operating climate, worldwide traffic surpassed the 6 billion passenger mark in 2013. This represents an enormous feat for the airport industry as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of commercial aviation in 2014."

Air passenger traffic was highest last year in Asia Pacific, where there were 2.06 billion passengers in 2013, up 8.7 percent over 2012. Europe, North America, and Latin America saw passenger volumes of 1.73 billion, 1.57 billion, and 501 million, up 3.2 percent, 1.1 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. Finally, the Middle East saw 278 passengers, up 7 percent from 2012, while Africa saw 164 million passengers, up 0.5 percent.

Growth was especially strong in emerging economies: BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) had 1.3 billion air passengers last year, up 8.6 percent. Passenger traffic in MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey) likewise grew 8.8 percent.

"The opportunities that lay ahead for aviation are numerous, particularly in emerging markets," Gittens continued. "Indeed, the huge demographic bases in many of these economies, coupled with rising per-capita income, will mean continued growth at airports in these markets. The growth in air transport demand and the services that airports provide will have a beneficial multiplier effect within local economies where airports operate, as well as across industries and the global economy."

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