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America Leads World in Busiest Airports List

Eight of the top 10 busiest airports in the world by total passengers were in the United States, but still trails behind in international transit.
As travel slowly came back to life in 2021, Americans were among the first to embrace commercial flying once again.


Data from Airports Council International-World shows the United States led the world in busiest airports, with eight facilities taking the top 10 spots based on total passengers enplaned and deplaned.


Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth and Denver Lead World’s Busiest Airports

For most flyers, it should come as no surprise that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) was once again the world’s busiest airport. After falling to second place behind China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) in 2020, the home airport for Delta Air Lines took back the top spot, serving over 75 million passengers in 2021. Although that was an increase of 76.4% compared to 2020, it was still just under one-third fewer flyers compared to 2019.


Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport – home airport of American Airlines – came in second, with over 62 million passengers traveling through the terminal. Positions 3 and 4 belong to two United Airlines hubs: Denver International Airport (DEN) with 58.8 million passengers, followed by Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), with 54 million flyers. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) rounded out the top five, with 48 million passengers.


When it comes to international travel, U.S. airports were nowhere to be found on the list. The most popular airport for international flyers for 2021 is Dubai International Airport (DXB), serving over 29 million flyers. Istanbul Airport (IST) moved from 14 in 2019 to second in 2021, with 26.4 million passengers enplaning and deplaning from the airport. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) was the third busiest, with 25.4 million passengers, followed by Frankfurt Airport (FRA) and Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG).


In terms of cargo, Memphis International Airport – home of FedEx – was the second busiest in the world, processing 4.4 million metric tons of cargo. The UPS Worldport at Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF) ranked sixth, processing over 3 million metric tons of cargo. Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (ANC) and LAX also made the list of the world’s busiest cargo airports.


Despite Bullish Numbers, Aviation Sector May Not Fully Recover Until 2024

While the numbers from ACI-World show the demand for travel is there, it may only be the start of a slow recovery process. A March 2022 analysis by the International Air Transport Association projected a full return to pre-pandemic passenger transit may not come until 2024.

bigbuy April 28, 2022

What country in America? There are 35 countries. I am guessing you are talking about the United States of America

MRM April 13, 2022

Jackson-Hartfield is still among the worst to fly from, to or through - and it's getting worse, not better - even before COVID.  I'll take ORD any day - even with all the wind!