Top 20 airports by passenger growth | 20 years of International Airport Review

Posted: 21 June 2017 | | 1 comment

Ever wondered which airport is currently the fastest growing in the world? How many of the world’s top 20 are situated in Asia? Find out in our latest instalment of the anniversary series…


Air travel is on the up – there is no doubt about this. Passengers figures are increasing each and every year in every continent as the mode of transport becomes more affordable, accessible and easy.

IATA expects 7.2 billion passengers to travel in 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8 billion air travellers in 2016. The prediction is based on a 3.7% annual Compound Average Growth Rate (CAGR) noted in the release of the latest update to the association’s 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast.

International Airport Review decided to take a closer look and compile a list of the top 20 fastest growing airports in the world by passenger number to see precisely which regions and airports are driving this growth. 

This exploration is part of a wider series that looks to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.

As we build up throughout the year to our anniversary issue in the Autumn, we’ll be running a monthly online feature that celebrates the top 20 of all things aviation. Be it a look at the latest innovations in the sector, our predictions for the future or a glance back at the 20 biggest stories of the past 20 years, we invite you to join us in celebration of this milestone throughout the year.

The list of the fastest growing airports is based upon Airports Council International‘s statistics for 2016 and the growth is based upon the yearly change in passenger traffic between 2015 and 2016. Only the world’s top 50 airports by passenger number were considered.

We admit that this analysis of ‘growth’ does not consider wider trajectory of growth, but nevertheless we feel it gives an interesting insight into which airports are the immediate growers in the airport world. 

The columns are as follows from left to right: Overall global position by gross passengers processed; Airport name; City; Country; IATA/ICAO code; Passengers processed for 2016; Growth in percentage form (2015-2016):

9.Shanghai Pudong International AirportPudong, ShanghaiChinaPVG/ZSPD66,002,414 Increase9.9%
36.Taiwan Taoyuan International AirportDayuan, TaoyuanTaiwanTPE/RCTP42,296,322 Increase9.9%
12.Amsterdam Airport SchipholHaarlemmermeer, North HollandThe NetherlandsAMS/EHAM63,625,534 Increase9.2%
27.Chengdu Shuangliu International AirportShuangliu-Wuhou, Chengdu, SichuanChinaCTU/ZUUU46,039,137 Increase9.0%
15.Guangzhou Baiyun International AirportBaiyun-Huadu, Guangzhou, GuangdongChinaCAN/ZGGG59,732,147 Increase8.2%
47.Ninoy Aquino International AirportPasay/Parañaque, Metro ManilaPhilippinesMNL/RPLL39,534,991 Increase8.1%
4.Los Angeles International AirportLos Angeles, CaliforniaUnited StatesLAX/KLAX80,921,527 Increase8.0%
28.Seattle-Tacoma International AirportSeaTac, WashingtonUnited StatesSEA/KSEA45,736,700 Increase8.0%
32.Toronto Pearson International AirportMississauga, OntarioCanadaYYZ/CYYZ44,335,198 Increase8.0%
41.Orlando International AirportOrlando, FloridaUnited StatesMCO/KMCO41,923,399 Increase8.0%
18.Denver International AirportDenver, ColoradoUnited StatesDEN/KDEN58,266,515 Increase7.9%
44.Benito Juárez International AirportVenustiano Carranza, Mexico CityMexicoMEX/MMMX41,410,254 Increase7.8%
25.Madrid Barajas AirportBarajas, MadridSpainMAD/LEMD50,397,928 Increase7.7%
24.Kuala Lumpur International AirportSepang, SelangorMalaysiaKUL/WMKK52,640,043 Increase7.6%
46.Newark Liberty International AirportNewark, New JerseyUnited StatesEWR/KEWR40,289,969 Increase7.4%
3.Dubai International AirportGarhoud, DubaiUnited Arab EmiratesDXB/OMDB83,654,250 Increase7.2%
35.Gatwick AirportCrawley, West SussexUnited KingdomLGW/EGKK43,136,795 Increase7.1%
23.San Francisco International AirportSan Mateo County, CaliforniaUnited StatesSFO/KSFO53,099,282 Increase6.1%
17.Singapore Changi AirportChangi, SingaporeSingaporeSIN/WSSS58,698,000 Increase5.9%
5.Tokyo International AirportŌta, TokyoJapanHND/RJTT79,699,762 Increase5.8%

So what can we learn from this?

While it is certainly interesting to see the Chinese airports beginning to catch up with the established names and dominate the upper echelons for this table, there are still a significant amount of rapid growers present from the United States and Europe, older aviation networks. Put into context, the likes of Dubai, Tokyo Haneda and LAX still posting around 8% growth is highly impressive if we take into consideration the fact they are already processing circa 80 million passengers a year. 

The top spot, goes to Shanghai and looks to become a significant contender over the next decade or so for overall number of passengers processed, posting a staggering 9.9% year-on-year growth total. 

The Latin American absence is noticeable and we see no African airports present either, though the fact that we only considered the world’s largest 50 airports in the first place is likely to have affected both of these regions and their inclusion in this list.

Elsewhere in Europe, the Spanish capital Madrid’s airport saw fantastic growth, beaten only by the ever-expanding Schiphol, and is likely to continue its ascent into the top tier of European airports well into 2017. 

  • Can this level of passenger growth be maintained by airports this large? 
  • How will groaning capacity deal with the demand for air travel across the world?
  • What will the 2017 statistics look like?

One response to “Top 20 airports by passenger growth | 20 years of International Airport Review”

  1. Phil Fine says:

    Interesting that three relatively new airports in China handle more passengers a year than Pearson, Canada’s busiest terminal!

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