The Covid-19 outbreak that swept the world last year caused a shake up in the list of the world’s busiest airports for 2020. Seven of the world’s top 10 busiest airports in 2020 were in China while the former world’s busiest airport — Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States — fell to No. 2 in the rankings after 22 consecutive years in the top spot.
As determined by The Airports Council International, these were the 10 busiest airports in the world by passenger volume in 2020 and their ranking on the same scale in 2019.
|1||11||GUANGZHOU, CN (CAN)||43 767 558||73 394 810||-40.4|
|2||1||ATLANTA GA, US (ATL)||42 918 685||110 531 300||-61.2|
|3||24||CHENGDU, CN (CTU)||40 741 509||55 858 552||-27.1|
|4||10||DALLAS/FORT WORTH TX, US (DFW)||39 364 990||75 066 956||-47.6|
|5||26||SHENZHEN, CN (SZX)||37 916 054||52 931 925||-28.4|
|6||48||CHONGQING, CN (CKG)||34 937 789||44 786 722||-22.0|
|7||2||BEIJING, CN (PEK)||34 513 827||100 013 642||-65.5|
|8||16||DENVER CO, US (DEN)||33 741 129||69 015 703||-51.1|
|9||37||KUNMING, CN (KMG)||32 990 805||48 076 238||-31.4|
|10||46||SHANGHAI, CN (SHA)||31 165 641||45 637 882||-31.7|
- Total passengers enplaned and deplaned, passengers in transit counted once
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China was the world’s busiest airport in 2020, rising to the No. 1 spot from its No. 11 ranking in 2019. Guangzhou saw 43.8 million passengers in 2020, down 40% from 2019. Atlanta had 42.9 million passengers last year, a precipitous 61% drop from 2019.
For comparison, these were the 10 busiest airports in the world by passenger volume in 2019.
- Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) Atlanta, GA — 110.5 million
- Beijing Capital International (PKK) Beijing, China — 100 million
- Los Angeles International (LAX) Los Angeles, CA — 88.1 million
- Dubai International (DXB) Dubai, UAE — 86.4 million
- Tokyo International (Haneda) (HND) Tokyo, Japan — 85.5 million
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Chicago, IL — 84.6 million
- London Heathrow (LHR) London, England — 80.9 million
- Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) Shanghai, China — 76.2 million
- Charles de Gaulle (CDG) Paris, France — 76.2 million
- Dallas-Fort Worth International (DFW) Dallas, TX — 75.1 million
Changes in the rankings reflect the uneven effects of the virus and the responses. All of the top 10 airports for 2020 passenger traffic are in China or the United States. In most cases, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remains depressed because of on-going travel restrictions.
Baiyun International’s ranking benefitted from an emphasis on domestic travel and the fact that it is the only major airport serving Guangzhou while Beijing and Shanghai are served by two. Atlanta should easily return to the top of the list when Covid wanes and travel restrictions are lifted. Atlanta is the primary hub for Delta Air Lines, one of the world’s largest airlines. Delta brings a lot of connecting passengers to Atlanta.
It seems likely that Covid-19 will continue to impact the rankings in 2021. While domestic travel picks up in several places around the world, it appears that international travel will be severely affected into 2022. Irrespective of Covid, the growth of the Chinese domestic and international markets will see Chinese cities occupying many of the top ten places even if Atlanta remains No. 1 for the foreseeable future.