Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is forecast to take the 2016 title as the “World’s Busiest Airport.” It would mark the 19th consecutive year Atlanta's airport counted more passengers than any other airport on the planet.
That’s according to the preliminary full-year passenger numbers for 2016 released Wednesday by the Airports Council International (ACI) trade group. Though preliminary, the rankings are unlikely to change when the “final” numbers are confirmed later this year.
As for Atlanta, not only did it hold on to the top ranking, but it also counted more than 100 million passengers for the second year in a row. Atlanta became the first airport in the world to break that threshold in 2015, when it processed 101.5 million passengers. The passenger count rose again by 2.6% in 2016, jumping to 104.2 million fliers, according to ACI’s preliminary numbers.
Photos: The busiest airports in the world
Atlanta (airport code ATL) also remained the world’s busiest airport as measured by “aircraft movements,” another count of how busy an airport is. “Movements” refers to the number of takeoffs and landings at an airport. Atlanta had briefly lost the title for most movements to Chicago O’Hare in 2014, but surged back past its Illinois rival in 2015 and appears set to retain the title again in 2016.
While each count is legitimate, the passenger tally is the most traditional barometer for determining the busiest airports.(See the full top 20 lists here)
Atlanta, of course, is the busiest hub for Delta Air Lines, which operates a massive connecting hub there.
“Boasting over 104 million passengers and growing 2.6% in 2016, the airport is within a two-hour flight of 80% of the United States' population,” ACI said about Atlanta’s airport in revealing its preliminary full-year passenger data.
Trailing Atlanta in the rankings of the world’s busiest airports was China’s Beijing Capital International Airport, which held on to its No. 2 ranking again in 2016.
“Many pundits anticipated that ATL would be overtaken by Beijing (PEK) by 2015, which held the world's second spot last year,” ACI added in its statement. “Growing 5% to over 94 million passengers in 2016, China's busiest airport saw subdued growth in previous years as it faced continuing capacity constraints. Conversely, ATL experienced above average growth levels spurred by aircraft fleet expansions in 2015 by Delta Air Lines, its major operator.”
Rounding out the top five among the world’s busiest airports (by passengers) in 2016 were Dubai (DXB), Los Angeles (LAX) and Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND).
LAX, buoyed by 8% year-over-year growth in passenger traffic, jumped three spots from No. 7. Not only did that place the California airport in the global top five, but it also moved LAX past Chicago O’Hare to become the USA’s second-busiest airport (by passengers).
Other U.S. airports landing in the global top 20 were Chicago O’Hare (6th globally, down from 4th in 2015), Dallas/Fort Worth (11th, down from 10th), New York JFK (16th, down from 15th) and Denver (18th, up from 19th).
The biggest mover among the world’s biggest airports was China’s Shanghai Pudong International Airport, which jumped four spots to No. 9.