Whether it is for business or leisure, flying is now an integral part of our modern-day lives. When we are leaving, arriving or waiting at an airport, how many people do we see? Maybe 400? 500 at most? This is only a very, very small fraction of the sheer numbers that pass through the doors of an airport each and every year.
From hubs in Europe to Asia and the United States, join us as we take a look and rank the 10 busiest airports by passenger traffic.
10 Paris, Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
With a 4% increase on the previous year, Paris’ international airport, Charles de Gaulle, saw 72.23 million passengers in 2018. Only one other European destination has beaten this figure.
Constant increases in passenger volume have called for upgraded and new train lines and airline routes to other major cities within France. The airport has also brought in a new automated baggage sorting system to help with efficiency and a new and improved direct train line into the French capital.
9 Shanghai, Pudong International (PVG)
Being the international hub of China, Shanghai Pudong International Airport accommodated over 74 million people in 2018 and will continue to grow as China becomes a world economic and business powerhouse.
The government began an upgrade in 2015 to the airport, meaning an expected passenger increase of 10% can be welcomed into the region and is expected to be finished in the not too distant future. This is welcome news for aspiring and established businessmen and women as well as leisure travelers.
8 Hong Kong Airport (HKA)
One of the main hubs connecting Oceania to Northern Asia and Europe is Hong Kong. Flag carrier Cathay Pacific is the main operator out of the region with flights to Europe, Canada and the United States. The airport saw 74.5 million passengers in 2018, an increase of 2.6% from 2017.
It has been well documented that air traffic is on the rise, however air cargo has seen a 10% decrease. Nevertheless, it is good news for tourism, and unsurprising given that the region has been relatively undiscovered until recently.
7 London Heathrow (LHR)
The only other European destination in the top 10 comes in at number 7. London Heathrow operates flights pretty much around the whole world, and now even to Australia with Qantas’ new direct flight from Perth to London on its flagship 787 Dreamliner.
Continuous upgrades and new routes have meant the airport has seen a 2.7% increase on 2017, welcoming a tad over 80 million passengers in 2018.
6 Chicago, O’Hare International (ORD)
With arguably the highest increase in passenger traffic (4.4%) from 2017 to 2018, Chicago O’Hare International has begun works to update all terminals and runways, in order to cope with the growing popularity of the airport.
To put these upgrades into perspective, 79.8 million passengers walked through its doors in 2017, and this increased to 83.3 million in 2018. Visiting the Windy City or just passing through, these numbers are just staggering and show the growing popularity of air travel in the US. Be sure to grab a deep dish pizza while waiting in line. It's totally worth sneaking in we promise.
5 Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)
Let’s start off by saying the Japanese capital is on everyone’s bucket list, and if it’s not on yours, do us all a favor and add it, you won’t regret it. Although Tokyo Haneda Airport has dropped to number 5 on the list from 2017 to 2018, it still remains the most popular airport in Tokyo, serving 87.1 million passengers in 2018.
Its location is one of the key features as to why it is so popular, being in close proximity to the greater metropolitan area, as opposed to its counterpart, Narita, which is approximately 60km from the city.
4 Los Angeles International (LAX)
Moving up the list to number 4 is Los Angeles International Airport, or better known as LAX. This airport is commonly referred to as the gateway to the Pacific Rim, and it is no wonder why.
Passengers are able to travel, from or to LAX, on flights to pretty much anywhere in the world, bar a few places here and there. This speaks volumes, with 87.5 million passengers passing through the airport, an increase of 3.5%.
3 Dubai International (DXB)
Who has seen DXB-‘Anywhere in the world’ printed on their bag tags for that well-deserved European getaway? If you have, you’ll know the feeling. Dubai International Airport is mainly served by the flagship carrier of the United Arab Emirates, and it is one of the best airlines in the world.
Only seeing a 1% increase in passengers from 2017 to 2018, Dubai International now has a fierce competitor in Doha Hamad International, across the basin in Qatar, however, it is going strong. Plenty of duty-free to kill time while waiting for that connecting flight will do the trick.
2 Beijing Capital International (PEK)
It is no wonder Beijing Capital International is at number 2 on the list. Just like Shanghai, it is a business and cultural hub of a continuously growing economic powerhouse.
Due to its 5% increase between 2017 and 2018, works have started on a new airport, Beijing Daxing. It is probably a good move, as no airport can sustain 5% yearly growth and 100.9+ million passengers annually for very long.
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL)
This may come as a surprise to many, however, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has been the busiest airport in the world since 1997! Who would have thought!? A steady increase of 3.3% has seen the passenger numbers jump to 107.4 million in 2018 with the number of annual visitors set to increase with each and every year.
Comparing 2 of America’s busiest airports, Chicago O’Hare and Atlanta, Chicago has more aircraft movement, but Atlanta edges out the competition in passenger movement, meaning more full-flights arrive and leave A-town. The Windy City is left middle and dry by this ranking.