ACI World Airport Traffic Dataset reveals top 20 busiest airports in 2021

By Luke Barras-hill |

In 2021, the globe’s airports handled 4.6 billion travellers – a 28.3% increase on 2020, but down 49.5% on 2019.

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) has returned to the summit of the globe’s airport passenger rankings.

Findings from Airport Council International (ACI) World’s Airport Traffic Dataset, which features airport traffic for more than 2,600 airports in excess of 180 countries and territories, revealed ATL handled 75.7 million (+76.4%) passengers in 2021.

In second place was Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) with 62.5m (+58.7%), followed by Denver International (DEN) with 58.8m (+74.4%) and Chicago Midway with 54m (+75.1%).

Istanbul Grand Airport, which ranked in second position behind Dubai International in the Top 10 International Airports* in April, placed 14th   – up six places (+58.5%) against its 2020 ranking.

The release of today’s rankings confirm the huge recovery strides made by a global airport industry that shed more than 10.2 billion passengers in the first two years of the Covid-19 crisis.

Top 20 take a 20% share of traffic

In 2021, the globe’s airports handled 4.6 billion travellers – a 28.3% increase on 2020, but down 49.5% on 2019.

The top 20 airports accounted for 19% of global traffic (863 million passengers), up 42.9% on 2020 but a decrease of -31.9% on 2019.

Global passenger traffic is forecast to improve considerably this year to reach approximately 77% of 2019 volumes in positive news for an industry decimated by the impacts of the pandemic.

Momentum generated by the lifting of many health measures across Europe and in the Americas has delivered a renewed sense of optimism, though major aviation markets such as Asia Pacific continue to lag behind due to international traffic closures.

In 2021, global aircraft movements nudged 74 million, representing an increase of +18.7% on 2020 and -28.2% versus 2019.

The top 20 airports, representing 12% of global traffic (8.7 million movements), witnessed a gain of +27.9% on 2020 and a 15.7% drop on 2019 results (10.3 million).

*Based on preliminary data


OUT NOW: June/July issue + Top 10 Airports

The TRBusiness June/July 2024 edition, featuring the Top 10 Airports report, is now available...


TR Consumer Forum 2024 photo gallery now live

The TR Consumer Forum 2024 was packed with memorable moments, from the very first networking...


TR Consumer Forum welcomes Gulf Beverages

TRBusiness is proud to announce Gulf Beverages and African + Eastern as Diamond Sponsors for the...

image description

In the Magazine

TRBusiness Magazine is free to access. Read the latest issue now.

E-mail this link to a friend