I spend a lot of time in airports as I travel to and from speaking engagements and other events. Recently I spoke at the Asia Mining Congress in Singapore, and next week I’ll be in Vancouver to speak at the Canadian Investor Conference.
As bustling as airports already are, they’re about to get a whole lot busier, if the analysts are correct.
Industry trade group Airlines for America estimates that 222 million passengers will fly on U.S. carriers between June 1 and August 31, surpassing the previous record set in 2007. Among those passengers will be an unheard-of 31 million people on international flights. This will push up the number of travelers passing through airports all over the world.
With that in mind, I highlighted the eight busiest airports around the globe in terms of total passenger traffic, according to the latest data from Airports Council International. Together, they serviced over 603 million people in 2014, with many more expected this year.
8. Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG)
No. of Passengers (2014): 63.8 million
Owner & Operator: Aéroports de Paris
Named for the former French general and president, Charles de Gaulle Airport was completed in 1974 after eight years of construction and is now the second-busiest airport in Europe. Terminal 1 is known for its unique rotunda design, encircled by seven satellite buildings. The airport serves as the principal hub for Air France and is a major European hub for Delta Air Lines.
7. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
No. of Passengers (2014): 69.9 million
Owner/Operator: City of Chicago/Chicago Department of Aviation
The hometown hub for United Airlines, Chicago O’Hare is actually the busiest airport in the world in terms of takeoffs and landings; over 888,000 aircraft movements took place during the 12-month period ending April 21. Chicago O’Hare has consistently been one of the busiest passenger hubs in the world after opening in 1955. It serves close to 40 different airlines and provides direct flights to more than 60 international destinations.
6. Dubai International Airport (DXB)
No. of Passengers (2014): 70.4 million
Owner/Operator: Government of Dubai/Dubai Airports Company
As the premier airport in the United Arab Emirates, Dubai International enjoys many impressive distinctions. For starters, it’s the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passengers; in 2014 it served nearly 70 million travelers from abroad, surpassing London Heathrow’s 68 million. Dubai Duty Free, which operates out of DXB, is the most successful airport retailer in the world, generating sales of $1.8 billion in 2013 alone. And when Terminal 3 was completed in 2008, it was the world’s largest building at 18.4 million square feet, an honor it held until 2013 when the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China was built.
5. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
No. of Passengers (2014): 70.6 million
Owner/Operator: City of Los Angeles/Los Angeles World Airports
Not only is LAX the fifth-busiest airport in the world, but it’s also the busiest origin and destination airport. This means that, relative to other airports, many more travelers begin or end their trips in Los Angeles than use it as a connection. With a 6-percent year-over-year increase in passengers between 2013 and 2014, LAX has one of the strongest traffic growth rates in the world.
4. Haneda International Airport (HND)
No. of Passengers (2014): 72.8 million
Operators: Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, Japan Airport Terminal Co., Tokyo International Air Terminal Corp.
Also known as Tokyo International, Haneda Airport is the second-busiest in Asia, able to handle 90 million passengers a year. It might soon reach that level, as it saw a remarkable 5.7-percent year-over-year growth in passenger traffic between 2013 and 2014. Having won the bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, the Japanese government plans to increase airport capacity even further. Haneda is the primary base for Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways, among others.
3. London Heathrow Airport (LHR)
No. of Passengers (2014): 73.4 million
Owner/Operator: Heathrow Airport Holdings/Heathrow Airport Limited
For years, London Heathrow was the world’s busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic, a distinction that Dubai International finally claimed last year. Serving 185 destinations in 84 countries on 80 different airlines, the British airport sees a high rate of international travelers—93 percent in 2014. Formerly called London Airport, it received the name “Heathrow” in 1966, after the medieval hamlet that was demolished in 1944 to make room for the airport.
2. Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK)
No. of Passengers (2014): 86.1 million
Operator: Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited
Beijing Capital is easily Asia’s busiest airport, serving 13 million more people than Tokyo International in 2014. To prepare for the 2008 Summer Olympics, Beijing Capital added the mammoth Terminal 3, currently the sixth-largest building in the world. The airport serves as the main hub for Air China, which flies out of Beijing to more than 120 destinations.
1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
No. of Passengers (2014): 96.1 million
Owner/Operator: City of Atlanta/Atlanta Department of Aviation
Almost 100 million domestic and international flyers passed through Atlanta last year. Opened in September 1980, Hartsfield-Jackson has remained the world’s busiest passenger airport since 1998; in terms of takeoffs and landings, it’s the second-busiest. Contributing to the airport’s prominence is Atlanta’s convenient location, a mere two-hour flight from 80 percent of the U.S. population. With Hartfield-Jackson as its main hub, Delta currently operates nonstop flights to more than 150 cities, 62 of those being international destinations in 42 countries.
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