Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has retained its crown as the world’s busiest airport after handling more than 107 million passengers in 2018.
But Beijing airport is closing the gap after growing by 5.4 percent to handle more than 100 million passengers, according to preliminary figures from the Airports Council International (ACI).
Dubai remained in third position with more than 89 million passengers after a year of lack-luster growth.
It was followed by Los Angeles (87.5m passengers) Tokyo Haneda (87.1m), Chicago O’Hare (83.3m), London Heathrow (80.1m), Hong Kong (74.5m), Shanghai (74m) and Paris Charles de Gaulle (72.2m).
The rankings changed when just international passengers were considered.
Dubai ranked number one with 88.9m international passengers, followed by London Heathrow (75.3m) Hong Kong (74.4m) Amsterdam Schiphol (71m) and Incheon in Seoul (67.7m).
Hong Kong led the field when it came to cargo followed by Memphis and Shanghai.
ACI said global passenger traffic remained resilient in 2018, growing 6 percent on the previous year to 8.8 billion. This was above the 4.3 percent compound annual growth rate for passenger traffic from 2007 to 2017.
Passenger traffic at the world’s 20 busiest airports – which represent 17 percent of all global passenger traffic – grew by 4.7percent in 2018 as more than 1.5 billion movements.
The air cargo market did not fare as well with a year-end growth figure of 3.2 percent.
The top 20 airports for aircraft movements grew by 2.4 percent in 2018, with Chicago O’Hare Airport surpassing Atlanta to become the busiest airport in the world for aircraft movements.
Both airports experienced slight declines in 2017 but have since recorded growth of 4.2 percent and 1.8 percent respectively.
ACI world director Angela Gittins said it was heartening to see traffic growth had remained resilient in 2018 despite the increasingly tense and challenging geopolitical climate.
“Aviation is strongly linked to the global economy and to local development, however, and the protectionist rhetoric that has swept several Western countries will continue to restrain growth in the efficient flow of people, goods and services,’’ she added.
The airport leader also warned that many national governments faced the predicament of demand outstripping available airport infrastructure.
“With the cost of travel decreasing in many markets, and a burgeoning middle class growing in emerging markets, passenger traffic growth has remained irrepressible,’’ he said.
“Indeed, ACI’s global medium-term forecasts reveal growth in demand for air services between 2018 to 2023 will grow by almost 30 percent.”