International Travel Is Shaking Up The World’s Busiest Airports List

Close to 8.5 billion passengers took a plane trip last year, according to Airports Council International (ACI) World’s just-released list of the top 10 busiest airports worldwide for 2023.

The total volume of passengers represents a 27% overall jump from 2022, fueled by a 37% boost the international travel market—nearly double the 20% increase for domestic travel. Even more notable is how shifts toward tourism hotspots are shaking up the world order for airports.

The increases themselves are not surprising, as last year was a bumper year for travel spending. Tourists around the world injected nearly $10 trillion into the global economy in 2023, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council. That figure represents 9.1% of global GDP.

After crunching the data from over 2,600 airports across more than 180 countries and territories globally, ACI World revealed no change at the top of the busiest-airport list, where Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International has sat at No. 1 for more than two decades. Four other U.S. airports also landed in the top 10: Dallas Fort Worth fell one spot to No. 3; Denver fell three spots to No. 6; Los Angeles fell two spots to No. 8; and Chicago fell five spots to No. 9.

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Outside the U.S., there were some very notable shifts reflecting the changing tourism landscape. “Dubai International Airport jumped to second rank for the first time, while Tokyo Haneda International Airport witnessed a remarkable ascent from 16th position in 2022 to 5th in 2023,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira. “Additionally, the unwavering strength of Istanbul and New Delhi airports keep them in top ranks, marking significant progress over [pre-pandemic] 2019.”

World’s Busiest Airports in 2023 (Total Volume)

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL): 104.7M passengers; up 11.7% YOY
  2. Dubai, UAE (DXB): 87M passengers; up 31.7% YOY
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW): 81.8M passengers; up 11.4% YOY
  4. London Heathrow, UK (LHR): 79.2M passengers; up 28.5% YOY
  5. Tokyo Haneda, Japan (HND): 78.7M passengers; up 55.1% YOY
  6. Denver (DEN): 77.8M passengers; up 12.3% YOY
  7. Istanbul, Turkey (IST): 76M passengers; up 18.3% YOY
  8. Los Angeles (LAX): 75.1M passengers; up 13.8% YOY
  9. Chicago O’Hare (ORD): 73.9M passengers; up 8.1% YOY
  10. Delhi, India (DEL): 72.2M passengers; up 21.4% YOY

Viewed through a wider lens, the 2023 numbers reflect a strengthening of international travel in the Middle East and Asia, said ACI World.

When domestic travel is not included, Dubai International Airport is the world’s No. 1 busiest airport, followed by a trio of European heavyweights: London Heathrow (No. 2), Amsterdam Schiphol (No. 3), and Paris Charles-de-Gaulle (No. 4).

On the international stage, the biggest movers were in Asia. Singapore Changi Airport jumped from No. 9 to No. 5, with an eye-popping 83% increase in international volume. Yet it was Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, which made the biggest leap from No. 32 to No. 7, due to a massive 213% boost in international passenger traffic, driven mainly by visitors from Japan, China, Taiwan and and elsewhere in Asia.

World’s Busiest Airports in 2023 (International)

  1. Dubai, UAE (DXB): 87M passengers; up 31.7% YOY

  1. London Heathrow, UK (LHR): 74.9M passengers; up 28.6% YOY
  2. Schiphol, Netherlands (AMS): 61.9M passengers; up 17.9% YOY
  3. Paris Ch.-de-Gaulle, France (CDG): 61.4M passengers; up 18.6% YOY
  4. Singapore Changi (SIN): 58.4M passengers; up 83.1% YOY
  5. Istanbul, Turkey (IST): 58.2M passengers; up 20% YOY
  6. Incheon, So. Korea (ICN): 55.8M passengers; up 212.9% YOY
  7. Frankfurt, Germany (FRA): 54.1M passengers; up 20.8% YOY
  8. Doha, Qatar (DOH): 45.9M passengers; up 28.5% YOY
  9. Madrid, Spain (MAD): 43.8M passengers; up 20.9% YOY

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