Hartsfield-Jackson Again Named World’s Busiest Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is the top passenger airport on the planet.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International is the top passenger airport on the planet.
Credit Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Atlanta is once again home to the busiest passenger airport in the world.

More than 94 million people passed through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in 2013, according to Airports Council International.

That traffic brought in $60 billion into the state and about $32 billion into metro Atlanta.

“So all of these things are part and parcel of the same narrative, which is as the world’s busiest airport, we’re able to actually move a lot of passengers and a lot of cargo efficiently and effectively,” says Reese McCranie.

Although Hartsfield is still the top airport, last year’s passenger total was down 1.1% compared to 2012.

One factor was the merger between AirTran and Southwest.

“There were some routes that were consolidated and because of that, we did see a slight dip.  However, our international traffic was up just over 4% over the same time period last year,” says McCranie.

An audio version of this story.

But, the joining of those two airlines wasn’t the only reason.

“The U.S. market is effectively flat.  Very, very modest growth, if any.  Whereas China, of course, is still one of the fastest growing markets in the world with double-digit growth.  And, of course, Beijing is going to be the center of that for many reasons,” says airline analyst Richard Aboulafia.

Beijing’s airport is the second busiest in the world, and it’s closing the gap.

But, could it ever dethrone Hartsfield?

“It might, there’s a pretty good chance of it, but there are just so many variables,” says Aboulafia.

Including a possible boost in passengers at Hartsfield.

“We have projections that show that we’re going to experience a 1.5% growth just in the first six months of 2014 and we also think that trajectory will keep us to the end of 2014 and into 2015, as well,” says McCranie.

London had the third busiest airport, followed by airports in Tokyo and Chicago, respectively.

Of all the airports in the top ten, Hartsfield was the only one that saw a drop in passenger percentage.

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