Demand for air travel isn’t likely to dwindle globally. The Airports Council International revealed that in 2017, almost 104 million passengers passed through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia, continuing its unbroken streak as the world’s busiest airport since 1998.
Of the top 20 airports in the Airports Council International’s preliminary list of busiest airports in the world, 10 are right here in Asia. Second on the list is China’s Beijing Capital International Airport with 96 million passengers. Those in Southeast Asia are the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta and Singapore’s Changi Airport. Changi was also just voted the World’s Best Airport for the 6th year in a row in the Skytrax World Airport Awards.
The region’s up-and-coming airport is the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, India. Its passenger traffic grew 14.1% last year, jumping to 16th place in 2017 after placing 22nd in 2016. The ACI’s report claimed that “India is poised to be one of the largest aviation markets in the world in the years to come.”
By contrast, Atlanta saw a 0.26% drop in passenger traffic. It is not clear why, but it’s worth pointing out that Hartsfield-Jackson airport suffered a serious power outage last year during the holiday season. On 17 December, an electrical fire in a tunnel beneath the airport knocked out the main power system and, consequently, the fail-safe system, sending the entire airport into darkness for nearly 11 hours.
More than 1,000 flights in and out of the airport had to be cancelled, leaving passengers stranded or scrambling to reschedule their travel plans. It’s still a feat on its own that Atlanta’s 2017 ranking should be unchallenged despite the fiasco.
The world’s busiest airports of 2017, by passenger traffic
1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Georgia), 104 million
2. Beijing Capital International Airport (China), 96 million
3. Dubai International Airport (United Arab Emirates), 88 million
4. Tokyo Haneda International Airport (Japan), 85 million
5. Los Angeles International Airport (California), 84.6 million
6. Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (Illinois), 80 million
7. London Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom), 78 million
8. Hong Kong International Airport (China), 73 million
9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (China), 70 million
10. Aéroport de Paris-Charles de Gaulle (France), 69 million