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The Busiest Airports in the World

With tens of millions served each year, we look at the world's busiest airports in terms of total passenger traffic, a list which covers a variety of immense structures across Asia, North America, and Europe.

Within a single year, the world’s busiest airport accommodated almost as many passengers as the entire population of the Philippines, the 12th most populous country on the planet. Millions of passengers use air flight as means to discover the trendiest and most remote destinations of the world, making the passenger airline industry lucrative and very competitive. It is critical for each major airline to keep updating their facilities with the latest technologies in order to lure travelers away from their competitors. Below, we have listed the 10 busiest airports in the world. They have gone above and beyond expectations to attract tens of millions of passengers to their services every year, and they continue to innovate, build, and grow.

10. Charles de Gaulle Airport - 65.9 Million Passengers

France's Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport, commonly referred to as "Roissy Airport," starts our list as the tenth busiest airport in the world. Lying on the northern side of Paris, it serves as a major hub for France and the whole of Europe, and it is the second busiest of all airports on the continent. Named for the man who served as the President of France for the duration of the 1960s, this airport is also the second busiest in Europe in terms of cargo traffic (behind Frankfurt Airport).

9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport - 66 Million Passengers

Shanghai's Pudong International Airport is the ninth busiest airport in the world, having handled 66 million passengers in 2016. Although Shanghai is home to two airports, Pudong is the busier of the two by a landslide. It is located about 30 kilometres away from central Shanghai, and is connected to the city by a line of the Shanghai metro as well as access to the high-speed Maglev train. The airport offers many flights operated by China Eastern Airlines, Air China, China Southern Airlines, and Shanghai Airlines. In terms of cargo transportation, Shanghai Pudong measures much higher up the list, at third place worldwide.

8. Hong Kong International Airport - 70.3 Million Passengers

At number eight is Hong Kong International Airport. Commonly abbreviated as HKIA, it is located on Chek Lap Kok Island and has been in operation since 1998. The airport is a gateway not only for Hong Kong and China, but also for the whole of Asia to foreign visitors. It has been time and again among the busiest cargo gateways in the world and a key logistical point for OneWorld Alliance, a cargo hub for UPS Airlines.

7. Heathrow Airport - 75.7 Million Passengers

The United Kingdom's London Heathrow Airport is seventh largest airport in the world, the largest airfield in the whole of the United Kingdom and the busiest on the European continent. This position is a sharp drop from its previous spot of third busiest. Nonetheless, the airfield a has a total surface covering 12.14 square kilometers. Over 90 airlines scheduled to land in 170 destinations worldwide use Heathrow Airport, making it a hub for airlines around the world. Besides this, the airfield has a total of 4 passenger terminals plus another terminal for cargo planes.

6. O'Hare International Airport - 78.3 Million Passengers

The United States takes the sixth place as well, with Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Located on the northwest side of Chicago, Illinois, this airport has been termed as the absolute busiest in terms of total numbers of landings and take-offs, which it manages using a total of eight different runaways. Originally called Orchard Field Airport, it was renamed in 1949 in honor of the American navy's first ever flying ace, Edward O'Hare, who received a medal of honor and was killed in action during World War II.

5. Tokyo International Airport - 79.7 Million Passengers

In fifth place is Japan's Tokyo Haneda Airport, commonly referenced to as the Tokyo International Airport. Serving the greater Tokyo vicinity, it is also home to Japan Airlines, commonly known as Terminal One, and All Nippon Airways, (or Terminal Two), both of which are principle domestic airlines. Yearly, Haneda caters to around 79.7 million domestic and international passengers. The consistent recent growth of Haneda has been closely tied to the opening of a devoted international terminal in 2010 and the completion of a fourth runaway which accordingly permits long-haul takeoffs even at night. The commerce policies of the government of Japan have also been critical in encouraging passengers to rely on the airline, especially in regards to attracting foreigners on business trips.

4. Los Angeles International Airport - 80.9 Million Passengers

The United States' Los Angeles International Airport follows suit as the fourth busiest airport in the world, having served over 80.9 million passengers in 2016. The airport covers 692 domestic flight patterns to 85 different cities across the US, as well as 928 foreign flight routes to over 60 cities in 34 countries all over the world. Currently, there is a multi-billion-dollar program aimed to upgrade the facility, which will culminate in the New Tom Bradley International Terminal Project. This endeavor is slated to include new gates capable of accommodating the latest generations of aircraft.

3. Dubai International Airport - 83.6 Million Passengers

Third in line is the United Arab Emirates' Dubai International Airport, which serves as the major airport for both Dubai and the entirety of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The airport currently has a capacity of serving 90 million passengers, a number that it is currently only sliding under. The success and growth of this airport is closely tied to its strategic positioning in the economically important Al-Garhoud locality, exactly 2.5 nautical miles east of Dubai, and covering 2,900 hectares of land. The airport also houses Dubai's major international airlines.

2. Beijing Capital International Airport - 94.3 Million Passengers

The second most active airfield is China's Beijing Capital International Airport. It is the main focal point of Air China, the People's Republic of China's flagship carrier wing, carrying passengers to more than 120 destinations. The fact that China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines employ the airdrome as their core as well consequently enlarges its traffic even further still. In preparation for Beijing's hosting of the Olympics in 2008, a third terminal was opened, the scope of which is second in size only to Dubai International Airport's Terminal Three. Beijing Capital International Airport has been second in position since 2010, registering over six hundred thousand take offs and landings in 2012, with this figure not including cargo planes. Today, the airport caters to on average over 94.3 million passengers every year.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport - 104.1 Million Passengers

The United States is home to the busiest airport on the planet thanks to Georgia's Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which boasts roughly 250,000 commuters partaking in 2,500 departures and arrivals every single day. Though the city of Atlanta, in which the airport is situated, has nowhere near the population of such cities as London, Beijing, or New York City, this airport has nonetheless topped lists of the world's busiest airfields ever since 1998. The airport now serves an average total of over 104.1 million passengers yearly. Perhaps among the chief reasons for these immense numbers is the fact that the airport has hosted the headquarters of the world's busiest airline group for passenger traffic, Delta Air Lines and its subsidiaries, since 1941. Additionally, Hartsfield-Jackson is located within just a two-hour flight away from more than 80% of the United States populace, making the airport an ideal entry point or layover destination.

The Busiest Airports in the World

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RankAirport NameAnnual Passenger Traffic (Millions)CountryAirport Code
1Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport104United StatesATL
2Beijing Capital International Airport94ChinaPEK
3Dubai International Airport84United Arab EmiratesDXB
4Los Angeles International Airport81United StatesLAX
5Tokyo International Airport80JapanHND
6O'Hare International Airport78United StatesORD
7Heathrow Airport76United KingdomLHR
8Hong Kong International Airport70Hong KongHKG
9Shanghai Pudong International Airport66ChinaPVG
10Charles de Gaulle Airport66FranceCDG
11Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport66United StatesDFW
12Amsterdam Airport Schiphol64NetherlandsAMS
13Frankfurt Airport61GermanyFRA
14Istanbul Ataturk Airport60TurkeyIST
15Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport60ChinaCAN
16John F. Kennedy International Airport59United StatesJFK
17Singapore Changi Airport59SingaporeSIN
18Denver International Airport58United StatesDEN
19Seoul Incheon International Airport58South KoreaICN
20Suvarnabhumi Airport56ThailandBKK
21Indira Gandhi International Airport56IndiaDEL
22Soekarno-Hatta International Airport55IndonesiaCGK
23San Francisco International Airport53United StatesSFO
24Kuala Lumpur International Airport53MalaysiaKUL
25Madrid Barajas Airport50SpainMAD

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