The pandemic scrambled a lot of things in this world, including traffic at airports.
So this year’s list of 10 Busiest Airports in the World, compiled by Airports Council International (ACI) has some surprises.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is reclaiming its title of World’s Busiest Airport. Passengers traffic there increased by more than 76% over 2020, to 75.7 million passengers.
Next on the list: Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, which welcomed more than 62.5 million passengers in 2021, an increase of almost 60% over 2020.
In fact, U.S. airports took eight of the top ten spots in the World’s Busiest Airports list for 2021, due in part to the fact that Chinese airports, which usually dominate this list, lost so much traffic due to the pandemic.
Back to the list, then:
#3 on the list this year is Denver International Airport (DEN), where passenger traffic increased more than 74% over 2020.
#4 on the list: Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD), up 75% over 2020.
And at #5: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), up almost 75% over 2020.
Those upticks in passenger traffic look impressive. But keep in mind that traffic overall is still down compared to robust numbers from 2019. For example, 2021 passenger numbers at ATL were down 31% compared to 2019.
Still, the U.S. airports can celebrate this year’s rankings.
As you’ll see in the chart below, Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) lands at spot 6, Orlando International Airport (MCO), which ranked 27 last year, now takes spot 7. And Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) in Las Vegas rounds out the 10 Busiest Airports List for 2021 in spot 10.
China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN), which was in the #1 spot last year, dropped to spot #8, and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) snagged spot #9.
“The ACI World passenger traffic rankings tell the story of an encouraging trend of
recovery, with most of the recurrent busiest airports pre-COVID-19, back at the top,” ACI
World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said. “Although we are cautious that
recovery could face multiple headwinds, the momentum created by reopening plans by
countries could lead to an uptick in travel in the second half of 2022.”