Chinese and US airports dominate 2020 traffic rankings

April 22, 2021
Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport came second in the international rankings

Chinese airports made up seven of the 10 busiest in 2020 with one facility soaring up the ranks from 46th to ninth thanks to an uneven global recovery from COVID-19.

The Airports Council International World Thursday published its preliminary 2020 world traffic rankings to reveal all in the top 10 were either in China or the US. The rankings cover passenger traffic as well as cargo and aircraft movements.

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ACI World said global passenger traffic at the top 10 busiest airports decreased by 45.7 percent compared to a wider global average of 54.6 percent

Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the US just behind.

Hongqiao International Airport was the airport that galloped up the ranks to ninth, a change ACI said illustrated the uneven nature of the impact of, and recovery from, the pandemic across the world.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global passenger traffic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said.

“The data published today reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

“The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

“With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realized with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.”

Air cargo was less impacted by COVID 19, with volumes decreasing by only 8.9 percent to an estimated 109 million metric tonnes in 2020, which was roughly equivalent to 2016 levels.

Air cargo volumes in the top 10 airports grew by 3 percent in 2020 and they collectively represented about 28 percent (30.6 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes in 2020.

ACI attributed the gain to an increase in demand for online consumer goods and pharmaceutical products and personal protective equipment.

It noted a 6.7 percent increase saw Memphis International Airport surpass Hong Kong International Airport.

It estimated there were 58 million global aircraft movements in 2020, representing a drop of 43 percent from 2019.

“The top 10 airports represent 7 percent of global traffic (4.2 million movements) and experienced a drop of 34.3 percent compared to 2019,’’ it said.

“Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport surpassed Chicago O’Hare International Airport, after leading in 2019 and 2018.”