U.S. Airports Headline Top 10 Busiest Worldwide

Industry group ACI confirms sharp rebound in air travel in 2022

By Evan Dougherty

Published April 17, 2023

Read Time: 3 mins


Five U.S. airports ranked among the top 10 in the world in 2022, a year when global air travel passenger volume rose nearly 53.5 percent compared to 2021.

Industry trade group Airports Council International’s recently released rankings of the top 10 busiest airports in the world measured global passenger demand at close to 7 billion based on preliminary figures, about 73.8 percent of the figure from 2019, the last full year before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top 10 airports ranked—which make up about 10 percent of global traffic—saw passenger volumes jump 51.5 percent from 2021 and reach 85.9 percent of pre-pandemic figures.

“The new top 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic reflects the resilience of the airport and aviation industry, and the eagerness of passengers to travel by air,” ACI director general Luis Felipe de Olivera said in a statement. “While U.S. airport hubs were able to recover quicker due to their strong domestic market, we are now witnessing global hubs joining upper ranks.”

Five U.S. airports made it onto the 2022 top 10 list, including the top four spots.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) held onto its top spot in 2022 with 93.7 million passengers—an increase of 23.7 percent from the year prior. In second place was Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) with 73.4 million passengers, followed by Denver International Airport (DEN) with 69.3 million and Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) with 68.3 million.

The highest ranked international airport was Dubai International Airport (DXB), placing fifth with 66.7 million passengers. Dubai rejoined the top 10 list for the first time since the pandemic by posting a nearly 127 percent increase in passengers versus 2021. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) finished sixth with nearly 65.9 million passengers.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport retained the top spot for most passengers of any airport worldwide in 2022. (Image courtesy of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)

The remainder of the top 10 featured international airports returning to the list for the first time since the pandemic: Istanbul Airport (IST) with 64.3 million passengers; London Heathrow Airport (LHR) with 61.6 million; New Delhi Indra Gandhi International Airport (DEL) with 54.9 million; and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) with 57.5 million.

Of all airports in the rankings, London Heathrow recorded the biggest jump into the top 10. Heathrow’s 217 percent increase in passenger traffic over 2021 saw it jump from 54th to eighth in 2022.

Despite labor, economic and geopolitical challenges, industry leaders remain optimistic for the continued recovery in demand for air travel globally, which is expected to increase further with the re-opening of major travel markets such as China, the second-largest aviation market after the U.S.

International travel returns

ACI also ranks the top 10 airports by international passenger traffic. In first place was Dubai, with more than 66 million international passengers in 2022.

European airports dominated the rankings with large increases in international passenger traffic attributed to the lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions. London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports finished second and 10th, respectively, on this year’s list, along with Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) in third; Paris Charles de Gaulle in fourth; Frankfurt Airport in sixth; and Madrid-Barajas Airport (MAD) in seventh.

Other airports that finished in the top 10 internationally include Doha Hamed international Airport (DOH) at no. 8 and Singapore Changi Airport (SIN), which saw its international passengers increase nearly 953 percent versus 2021, at no. 9.

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