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The top 10 busiest airports in the world by passenger number

Posted: 27 April 2022 | | 10 comments

In this article, we review which airports had the highest passenger numbers in 2021, based on the total number of departing, arriving, transferring and direct passengers, throughout COVID-19.

Top 20 Largest Airports in the World by Passenger Number in 2019

The following list is based on figures from Airports Council International (ACI) and displays the top 10 busiest airports in order of total passenger numbers in 2021. Passenger figures are calculated by summing the totals of departing passengers, arriving passengers, transferring passengers and direct transit passengers at each airport throughout the course of the year. In particular, the year 2021 being a significant one, due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on passenger air travel. 

This article was updated on 27 April 2022, based on figures published on 11 April 2022.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

View of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport's runway passenger

Acting as the primary international airport serving Atlanta, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport is second busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers and aircraft movements.

Total passengers: 75,704,760

Compared to 2020: 76.4 per cent increase

2. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 

Arial view of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Located across two counties due to its size, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the largest hub for American Airlines and fourth busiest airport by passenger number.

Total passengers: 62,465,756

Compared to 2020: 58.7 per cent increase

Denver International3. Denver International Airport (DEN)

Generating over $26 billion for the region of Colorado each year, Denver International Airport is the fifth-busiest airport in the U.S., the world’s largest aviation market.

Total passengers:  58,828,552

Compared to 2020: 74.4 per cent increase

4. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)

Located on the Northwest Side of Chicago, Illinois, O’Hare International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world and one of the most significant transportation hubs in the U.S.

Total passengers: 54,020,399

Compared to 2020: 75.1 per cent increase

5. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)Arial view of Los Angeles International Airport

Located along the West Coast of the U.S., Los Angeles International Airport is a gateway to multiple international destinations, particularly Asia and the Pacific.

Total passengers: 48,007,284

Compared to 2020: 66.8 per cent increase

6. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT)Plane taking off from Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is a civil-military airport located in North Carolina and is financially operated on a fully self-sustaining basis.

Total passengers:  43,302,230

Compared to 2020: 59.2 per cent increase

7. Orlando International Airport (MCO)Orlando International Airport records 10 months of strong growth

As a major public airport located six miles southeast of Downtown Orlando, Orlando International Airport is a major international gateway for the mid-Florida region, as well as one of the largest commercial airports, in terms of land area, in the U.S.

Total passengers: 40,351,068

Compared to 2020: 86.7 per cent increase

8. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN)

The primary airport serving Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province in China, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is China’s largest transportation hub and is the busiest airport in the world by passenger numbers. However, Guangzhou Airport did suffer a decline in passenger volume due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Total passengers: 40,259,401

Compared to 2020: 8.0 per cent decrease

9. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU)

As an important aviation hub for Western China, Chengdu Airport ranks third in the world as busiest airport by passenger number for the capital of Sichuan province, China.

Total passengers: 40,117,496

Compared to 2020: 1.5 per cent decrease

10. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS)

Airplanes on the runway at McCarran International Airport

Located in Paradise, Nevada, McCarran International Airport is the main airport for public and military use in the Las Vegas Valley.

Total passengers: 39,754,366

Compared to 2020: 78.6 per cent increase

Cargo handled

To view the top 10 busiest airports in the world by tonnes of cargo handled – click here.

Aircraft movements

To view the top 10 busiest airports in the world by aircraft movements – click here.

10 responses to “The top 10 busiest airports in the world by passenger number”

  1. Although Atlanta remains in no. 1 spot, Beijing and Dubai are nipping at Atlanta’s feet! Moreover, it’s interesting that the bulk of Atlanta’s arrivals and departures come from domestic, and not foreign, flights. It’s also interesting that Dubai has grown so quickly that it now eclipses LAX!

  2. CARLOS SANTANA says:

    It is amazing how top International Airport have the most in infrastructure both in facilities and technologies all over the world.
    Passengers are requering more and more services and these 20 selected airports have them all. New services and technologies the very most important facts to serve and satisfy Internation al passenger…and I havehad the experience to be in Dallas Fortworth,TX DFW-US, twice while I was in American Airlines Learnig Center- Flagship University-today.
    Really, I was astonished and surprised for all of it.

  3. Diana Tohm says:

    I’m surprised u didn’t mention Bush International Airport in Houston Texas to be among the top 20 businesses whether it’s domestic and international airports. I’m a flighattendant 14 years with British Airways and always fly out of Bush. Bush is my home hub because I married an American.I’m originally from Oxford England

  4. What would be interesting to note is not how many passengers pass through an airport – but how many of those passengers actually enter the city itself.

  5. Thanks,China appears to be growing steadily.

  6. Eva Manyedi says:

    Amazing! I have recently been to Doha which when I checked I was given an impression that it’s number 6 largest in the world but to my surprise it is not among the top 20! Out of the 20 I have passed through 6, Atlanta and Dubai are amazing!

  7. Sujoy Kar says:

    6 out of the 20! Dubai is class apart in terms of shopping options… Bangkok is another cool airport. Changi and Hong Kong are little over hyped. Outside Asia, loved Sydney and Schiphol – amazing airports!!

  8. Mrityunjay Kumar says:

    Delhi Airport deserved to be in the list. Thank you for including this!

  9. Michael says:

    To me, there is no airport like Heathrow airport, especially Terminal 2, the most beautiful and friendly one! I hope no Brexit will bring it down in years to come.

  10. Josh says:

    Provably this airport is not it the 200 busiest, but coming to the airport from the capital city os Santo Domingo, this airport have the most beautiful scenery adorn by palms and blue ocean i have seen, and right before you enter the airport ground punta caucedo there is a Native American cemetery overlooking a great encenada. To me this is priceless

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