The world’s busiest airports by passenger traffic are measured by total passengers (data from Airports Council International (ACI)), defined as passengers enplaned plus passengers deplaned plus direct-transit passengers. Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta has been the world’s busiest airport every year since 2000. The number of passengers are from 2012.
10. Dubai International Airport (DXB) – 57.7 million passengers
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Dubai International Airport is one of the main airline hubs in the Middle East, and is located 4 km north east of Dubai. Home to several of Dubai’s international airlines, Emirates provides 50% of all aircraft activity for Dubai, handling 64% of all passenger traffic, while FlyDubai is a low-cost carrier, which accounts for 10.7% of all DXB passenger traffic. Dubai International provides flights for over 220 destinations, operated by 130 different airlines. Covering 8,640 acres of land, DXB employs nearly 58,000 people, contributing greatly to the city’s economy. The newest terminal, Terminal 3, opened in 2008, and was built specifically for the Emirates Airline. By floor area, Terminal 3 ranks as the largest airport terminal and the second largest building in the world, allowing for an airport total capacity of over 75 million passengers.
9. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK) – 57.8 million passengers
Soekarno–Hatta International Airport (SHIA) is the main airport of Java, Indonesia. SHIA has two namesakes – Soekarno (née Kusno Sosrodihardjo), Indonesia’s first President and Mohammad Hatta the first Vice President. Situated in Tangerang, Banten, nearly 20 km west of Jakarta, SHIA is currently running over capacity, though the Airport Council International declared it safe for operation. In 2012, total passengers served clocked in at 57.8 million, making SHIA the ninth busiest airport in the world, and the busiest in the Southern Hemisphere. To compensate for the overcapacity, Terminal 3 is being restructured, making CGK an Aerotropolis airport, which will allow service for up to 62 million passengers per year.
8. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – 58.6 million passengers
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Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the largest international airport in the state of Texas, and is the main hub for American Airlines. As the second largest airport in the United States (behind Denver International), DFW is the eighth busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic, and the third busiest in aircraft movements. DFW is situated between Dallas and Fort Worth. The airport provides its own emergency medical services, police, and fire protection, and offers flights for nearly 200 destinations, which includes 148 domestic, and 52 international flights. DFW is set to surpass this destination total in 2014.
7. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) – 61.6 million passengers
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport is a worldwide aviation centre, whose namesake is Charles de Gaulle, the Free French Forces leader, who founded the French Fifth Republic. Situated 25 km northeast of Paris, the airport is home to Air France, France’s primary national flag carrier. In 2012, the airport served 61.5 million passengers and provided for nearly 500,000 aircraft movements, landing the airport in seventh amongst the world’s busiest airports and a close second (after London’s Heathrow) amongst Europe’s busiest in passenger movement. CDG also ranks as the tenth busiest in aircraft movement in the world .
6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – 63.8 million passengers
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Los Angeles International Airport is most often referred to, by pronouncing its code letters individually, as LAX. Situated along the Pacific coast in southwestern Los Angeles, LAX is owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports, an agency aligned with the Los Angeles city government. In 2012, LAX increased its passenger margin by 3% from the previous year, providing service for nearly 64 million passengers, making it the sixth busiest airport in the world. LAX is the only airport to hold a top five ranking amongst US airports for both passenger and cargo traffic.
5. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) – 66.6 million passengers
Chicago O’Hare International Airport is situated in the northwest corner of Chicago, Illinois. Paired with Chicago Midway International Airport – a secondary airport which provides service for low-cost carriers –, O’Hare is the primary airport serving the Chicago area. Serving over 45% of the airport’s passengers, United Airlines is the largest airline at O’Hare. With more than 60 foreign destination flights on offer, O’Hare is the United State’s fourth busiest international gateway, and has been regarded by two separate sources (the U.S. edition of Business Traveler Magazine, as well as Global Traveler Magazine) as the “Best Airport in North America” for 10 years running. Despite this title, O’Hare International’s flight cancellations currently account for over a sixth of the nation’s total.
4. Tokyo International Airport (HND) – 66.8 million passengers
Also known as Haneda Airport, Tokyo International Airport is one of two primary airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area, and provides the home base for two major domestic airlines, Japan Airlines (Terminal 1) and All Nippon Airways (Terminal 2). Until Narita International Airport’s opening in 1978, Haneda served as Tokyo’s main international airport, after which it became the hub for domestic flights. With the completion of a fourth runway, and the opening of an international terminal, Haneda’s international flight offerings increased dramatically, boosting its service to nearly 67 million passengers in 2012, making Haneda the second busiest airport in Asia and the fourth busiest in the world. Combined with Narita, the two airports rank as the third busiest city airport system in the world, following New York City and London. According to ForbesTraveller.com, in 2009, Haneda Airport clocked in as the most punctual airport in the world for two years running, with a 94.3% total on-time departure and 88.6% total on-time arrival.
3. London Heathrow Airport (LHR) – 70.0 million passengers
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London Heathrow Airport is located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, in West London, and as of 2012, ranks as the third busiest airport in the world in total passenger traffic, and the busiest in the United Kingdom. Heathrow serves more international passengers than any other global airport. The airport is a substantial source for London’s economy, contributing to approximately 2.7% of London’s total GVA, and providing jobs for 76,600 employees. Between 2007 and 2009, Terminals 3 and 4 underwent major construction, and a new Terminal 2 complex is set to replace the old terminal building, with the first constructed portion expected to open in 2014.
2. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) – 81.9 million passengers
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Beijing Capital International Airport is situated 32 km northeast of Beijing’s city center, and due partly to Beijing’s thriving economy, has rapidly climbed rankings amongst the busiest airports in the world within the past decade. Ranking first as the busiest airport in Asia in terms of passenger traffic and total traffic movements, Beijing Capital International Airport is home to the flag carrier of the People’s Republic of China, Air China, which offers service to over 120 destinations. The second largest airport terminal in the world (after Dubai’s Terminal 3), Beijing International’s Terminal 3 was added in 2008 to accommodate passenger traffic for the Olympic Games.
1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – 94.5 million passengers
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Situated seven miles south of Atlanta’s central business district, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport has ranked number one, since 1998, as the world’s busiest airport by passenger traffic. Providing service to over 95 million passengers and 950,119 flights, a large portion of the nearly one million flights available are domestic, while the airport offers 207 domestic and international gates. As a focal point for Southwest Airlines and Delta Air Lines’ main hub, ATL offers nearly 1,000 flights a day for Delta, making this Delta hub the largest airline hub in the world.