Busiest Airports In the World 2018

By Aaditee Kulkarni on Feb 12, 2018
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This is one place that never sleeps, only to see some of the hardest goodbyes and the favourite hellos! Bustling day and night, here you will see many huge plasma screens announcing the arrivals & departures, a sea of faces moving in all directions, a few of them lined up at the check in desk and a whole lot other snoozing on the uncomfortable chairs. An airport consists of a landside area and an airside area and a whole lot of employees who ensure smooth flow of air traffic. While the landside area has passenger terminals, parking lots, and public transportation terminals; the runways, taxiways, and aprons make up the airside area.

A typical airport sees many incoming and outgoing flights along with a lot more passenger movement. Every year, the Airports Council International (ACI) releases the list of the world’s busiest airports. A total of enplaned, deplaned, and direct transit passengers makes up the total number of passengers that the airport serves. Let us take a look at some of the busiest, from the top!

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.

Passengers served: 104,171,935 (2016)

The busiest airport in the world welcomed more than 100 million passengers in 2016. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport has consistently ranked as the top airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic and number of landings and take-offs. What makes this airport top the charts is the airport’s geography. Located within a 2 hours’ distance for the 80% of the country’s population, this airport connects passengers and cargo to all major airports of the world.

The airport has five parallel runways, two terminals, and 209 gates that cater to nearly 2,500 arrivals and departures every day. The Atlanta airport is also home to the world’s largest airline - Delta Air Lines which has helped this airport gain that coveted spot on the charts.

Apart from the gastronomic products, gifts, and souvenirs, the airport facilities include airlines clubs, restrooms, automated emergency defibrillator (AED), banking facilities, prayer rooms, currency exchange, ATM’s, nurseries, pet care, and lounges with free Wi-Fi among many others.

2. Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport


Location: Chaoyang-Shunyi, Beijing, China.

Passengers served: 94,393,454 (2016)

Number two on our charts, Beijing Capital International Airport is the busiest airport in Asia. The Olympics of 2008 has helped Beijing Capital International Airport become not only one of the busiest airports in the world, but also one of the largest airports and one of the most sustainable airports of the world. In terms of the passenger experience and operational efficiency, the Beijing Airport has been soaring the charts, and its traditional Chinese culture and symbols has only helped it do that.

The airport’s sensuous curves will subtly direct you as your make your way around the world’s largest airport. The terminal buildings have incorporated many environment friendly designs that makes this airport world’s most sustainable. The airport’s 3 terminals operate more than 250+ flight routes every day and is located 25 kilometres from downtown.

3. Dubai International Airport

Dubai International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Garhoud, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Passengers served: 83,654,250 (2016)

The world's busiest airport by international passenger traffic, Dubai International Airport is world’s 3rd busiest airport. This airport has many accolades in its kitty, including the 6th busiest cargo airport in world and the busiest airport for Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 movements.

A powerhouse Middle East hub, Dubai International Airport has two closely spaced parallel runways with the gap between the centrelines of these runways only 385 metres long. Major airlines of the world like Emirates and Qantas have their hubs here, and the airport sees more than 8000 flights operated weekly. As for the passenger services, this airport has an array of duty-free shops and eating outlets apart from internet and gaming facilities, prayer rooms, showers, spas, gym, swimming pool, and airport hotels.

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4. Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Los Angeles, California, United States of America.

Passengers served: 80,921,527 (2016)

Let’s talk about the stats first! The Los Angeles International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in both the Greater Los Angeles Area and in the state of California, the second busiest airport in the United States, world's busiest origin and destination (O&D) airport, and one of the largest international airports in the world.

The airport’s iconic building resembles a flying saucer that has landed on its four legs. The airport made history September 21, 2012 when Space Shuttle Endeavour landed on its runway 25L. The LAX has four runways, nine passenger terminals, and a total of 128 gates which are arranged in the shape of a horseshoe. This airport connects non-stop to more than 100 national and 85 international destinations.

5. Tokyo International Airport

Tokyo International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Ōta, Tokyo, Japan.

Passengers served: 79,699,762 (2016)

The Tokyo International Airport is one of the two primary airports serving the Japanese capital of Tokyo. Commonly known as Haneda Airport, this airport is known to serve many long-haul flights catering to nearly 80 million passengers annually.

The airport has three terminals and four runways that offer nonstop service to 25 cities in 17 countries. The Tokyo International Airport is the third-busiest airport in Asia and the fifth-busiest in the world.

6. O'Hare International Airport

O'Hare International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States of America.

Passengers served: 78,327,479 (2016)

The Chicago O'Hare International Airport topped the list of the busiest airports in the world in the year 2014 by the record for the number of take-offs and landings. This airport serves the Chicago Metropolitan Area with 153 domestic destinations in the United States and 55 international destinations.

Voted as the Best Airport in North America for 10 years, the O'Hare Airport was constructed in 1942–43 during the World War 2. Today, this airport is served by eight runways, a large air cargo complex, four passenger terminals, nine concourses, and 182 gates.

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7. Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport


Location: Hillingdon, London.

Passengers served: 75,715,474 (2016)

Commonly called the London Heathrow, the Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, and the seventh busiest airport in the world. Of the six airports that serve the capital of the Britain, London Heathrow is the busiest, and handled 2,934,554 passengers between the London and New York route in 2016.

Located 23 kilometres west of Central London, Heathrow Airport has two parallel runways along with four operational terminals. Originated as a small airfield in 1929, this airport today is used by over 80 airlines, flying to 185 destinations in 84 countries.

8. Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport


Location: Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong, China.

Passengers served: 70,314,462 (2016)

In operation since 1998, the Hong Kong International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the world. Moreover, this airport is also world's busiest cargo gateway and home to one of the world's largest passenger terminal buildings in the world.

Serving as a primary hub to many airlines like Cathay Pacific, Cathay Dragon, Hong Kong Airlines, Hong Kong Express Airways and Air Hong Kong, this airport is also a hub for the Oneworld alliance and UPS Airlines. With 100 airlines operating flights to over 180 cities across the globe, the Hong Kong International Airport has 90 boarding gates, 78 jet bridge gates, 12 virtual gates, 2 terminals, and 2 runways.

9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Shanghai Pudong International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Pudong, Shanghai, China.

Passengers served: 66,002,414 (2016)

The Shanghai Pudong International Airport together with Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport serve all the regional, domestic and international flights to and from Shanghai. The world's third-busiest airport by cargo traffic, the second-busiest airport in China, fifth-busiest in Asia and the ninth-busiest in the world, Shanghai Pudong International Airport serves 104 airlines connecting more than 210 destinations around the globe.

The two passenger terminals are flanked on both sides by four parallel runways, and a satellite terminal and two additional runways are estimated to handle 60 million passengers and six million tonnes of freight annually. The airport has 70 boarding bridges, 218 parking positions, 16 taxiways, and a runway that is capable of accommodating some of the biggest aircrafts in the world – An Airbus A380, a Boeing 747-8, and an Antonov An-225.

10. Charles de Gaulle Airport

Charles de Gaulle AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Roissy-en-France, Île-de-France, France.

Passengers served: 65,933,145 (2016)

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport is the largest international airport in France and the tenth busiest airport in the world. The 475,654 aircraft movements that the airport handled in 2017 makes this airport Europe's busiest airport in aircraft movements, Europe's second-busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers, twelfth-busiest in the world and the second-busiest in Europe in terms of cargo traffic.

The Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, also known as Roissy Airport, has 3 terminals and 4 runways, and serves as a hub for Air France and low-cost carriers like Vueling and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

11. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

Dallas/Fort Worth International AirportPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, United States of America.

Passengers served: 65,670,697 (2016)

The Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is one of the largest airports in the state of Texas. This airport has been ranked fourth busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements and the eleventh busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic. With nearly 900 daily flights, this airport is the largest hub for American Airlines.

With its 7 runways, 5 terminals, and 165 gates, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport serves 216 destinations, including 57 international and 159 domestic destinations.

12. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport SchipholPC: Wikimedia Commons


Location: Haarlemmermeer, North Holland, The Netherlands.

Passengers served: 63,625,534 (2016)

Informally called the Schiphol, and serving to the flag carrier of the Netherlands, the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is a hub for the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The third busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger traffic, fifth busiest in terms of international passenger traffic and the sixteenth busiest for cargo tonnage, Schiphol originally opened as a military airbase.

Today, the airport has six asphalt runways, but only one terminal. Their one-terminal concept makes sure that all the facilities are located under one roof. When constructed, the air traffic control tower at the Schiphol airport was the tallest in the world. One of the most interesting facts about this airport is that the entire airport is located below sea level making this airport the world's lowest major commercial airport.

Busiest? Maybe yes maybe not, but these are the best airports in the world

  • Singapore Changi International Airport (SIN) for its beautiful architecture, luxurious amenities, and efficient operations.
  • Tokyo Haneda International Airport (HND) for its efficiency and cleanliness.
  • Incheon International Airport (ICN) for its range of shopping and dining options.
  • Munich Airport (MUC) for its heavy-duty glass architecture.
  • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) for its SkyCity Nine Eagles golf course that is located at terminal 2.
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