Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings covering passenger traffic, cargo volumes, and aircraft movements.
ACI found that annual passenger traffic remained resilient in 2018 and is estimated to have reached 8.8 billion, growing by an estimated 6% compared with the previous year. This increase is above the 4.3% compound annual growth rate for passenger traffic from 2007 to 2017.
Passenger traffic at the world’s 20 busiest airports – which represent 17% of all global passenger traffic – grew by 4.7% in 2018 as more than 1.5 billion passengers used these airports.
Of these airports, Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Georgia, USA, kept top place, handling more than 107 million passengers; Beijing Airport, China, surpassed the 100 million passengers mark in 2018, growing by 5.4% and holding onto second spot; and Dubai Airport remained in third position as, after years of double-digit percentage traffic growth, it grew by 1%.
The top 20 airports for aircraft movements grew by 2.4% in 2018. Chicago O’Hare Airport surpassed Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson Airport to become the busiest airport in the world for aircraft movements. Both airports experienced slight declines in 2017 but have since recorded growth of 4.2% and 1.8% respectively.
“It is heartening to see that global passenger traffic growth has remained resilient in the face of an increasingly tense and challenging geopolitical climate,” said Angela Gittens, ACI World director general.
“Aviation is strongly linked to the global economy and to local development, however, and the protectionist rhetoric that has swept several Western countries will continue to restrain growth in the efficient flow of people, goods and services.
“With the cost of travel decreasing in many markets, and a burgeoning middle class growing in emerging markets, passenger traffic growth has remained irrepressible.
“Indeed, ACI’s global medium-term forecasts reveal growth in demand for air services between 2018 to 2023 will grow by almost 30%. This means many national governments face the predicament of demand outstripping available airport infrastructure.”
In other significant findings, India became the world’s third-largest aviation market in 2018 in terms of passenger throughput, behind the USA and China. India’s move toward a more liberalized aviation market and the nation’s strengthening economic fundamentals have helped it become one of the fastest-growing markets with its traffic growing rapidly in a relatively short time.