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ATL Retains Top Spot In ACI-World Rankings

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) remained the busiest airport in the word in 2023, registering more than 103 million passengers, according to preliminary data released by Airports Council International – World. Four other U.S. airports also made the top 10 list. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) slipped from second to third with 81.76 million passsengers, Denver International Airport (DEN) ranked sixth (down from third) with 77.84 million passengers, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) served 75 million passengers in 2023 but dropped in the rankings from sixth to eighth, and O’Hare International Airport (ORD) dropped to ninth, from fourth, with 73.89 million passengers.  

The slippage by U.S. airports in the global rankings reflects the rebound of global passenger traffic in 2023. U.S. airports on average recovered more quickly than their global counterparts; hence their 2022 rankings reflected that vibrancy against a still-recovering global field. In 2023, ATL, LAX and ORD were still shy of their 2019 passenger numbers but DFW and DEN had surpassed 2023 numbers by a good margin.  

Other top 10 airports include Dubai International (DXB), London Heathrow International (LHR), Tokyo Haneda (HND), Istanbul (IST), and Indira Ghandi Delhi International (DEL) airports. The global total passenger forecast for 2023 stands close to 8.5 billion, reflecting a remarkable recovery of 93.8 percent from pre-pandemic levels.  

ACI-World added that international traffic recovery drew nearer to that of domestic traffic, emphasizing its essential role in propelling the industry’s resurgence and expansion.  

Preliminary figures indicate that the 2023 global total passengers’ figure represents an increase of 27.2% from 2022. While the domestic market grew by 20.2% last year, or a recovery of 96.8% of the 2019 level, the international market drove recovery with a 36.5% growth rate, or 90.4% of the 2019 level. 

“Global air travel in 2023 was chiefly fueled by the international segment, propelled by several factors,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira.  Among these were the anticipated benefits from China’s reopening and a growing inclination towards travel despite macroeconomic conditions.” 

ACI-World noted cargo continues to play a key role in world commerce despite the year-over-year decrease with Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) maintaining the top position, followed by Memphis International (MEM) and Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) airport.  

Also included in the Top 10 for cargo volume in 2023 were Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport in 4th, Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (LOS) in 6th, Miami International Airport (MIA) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in 9th. 

“The rankings highlight the crucial role these transportation hubs play in global connectivity, commerce, and economic development,” de Oliveira said. “Airports continue to demonstrate their resilience and adaptability amidst the challenges posed by the ever-evolving landscape of global travel.”