Incheon re-enters ACI World’s top 10 busiest hubs for intl. pax amid reshuffle

By Faye Bartle |

Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport. Photo: Shutterstock.

Airports Council International (ACI) World has today unveiled the highly anticipated preliminary top 10 busiest airports worldwide for 2023, showcasing significant shifts driven by the resurgence of international air travel.

Notably, Incheon International Airport is once again back in the international passenger (pax) rankings, in seventh place, serving 55.7 million international pax, up 20% yoy and marking a significant 47.1% increase on 2019 levels.

Incheon ranked fifth in the top 10 in 2019, slipping to 32nd place in 2022. The 2023 result marks a major comeback for the South Korea hub.

Dubai International Airport (DXB) has once again retained the top spot, serving almost 87 million international pax, up 31.7% on 2022 (year-over-year) and 0.8% higher than pre-pandemic times (2019).

Furthermore, all top four rankings were retained from 2022, with Heathrow Airport (LHR) claiming the number two spot, serving almost 75 million international pax, up 28.6% versus 2022.

Coming in third is Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) with 61.8 million pax (up 17.9% on 2022) followed by Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) in the fourth spot, serving 61.4 million international pax (up 18.6% on 2022).

Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) has shot up the rankings year from ninth to fifth place with 58.4 million international pax, representing a massive 83.1% jump on 2022 as traffic in the region accelerated.

ACI World

ACI World top 10 busiest airports worldwide for international passengers in 2023 (preliminary data, released 15 April 2024).

Indeed, Changi has now surpassed its 2019 ranking of seventh place, yet international pax numbers at the hub are still -13.6% below 2019 levels.

Qatar’s Hamad International Airport (DOH) also delivers strong results with international pax up 28.5% on 2022 and 18.4% compared to 2019 levels, making it one of only three hubs in the 2023 top 10 for intl. pax to surpass the pre-pandemic benchmark (added to Dubai International and Istanbul Airport).

London Gatwick (LGW) has dropped off the top 10 for international pax this year, having ranked in 10th place in 2022.

Closing the recovery gap

Alongside the release of the preliminary the rankings, ACI World reveals that the global total passenger forecast for 2023 stands close to 8.5 billion, reflecting an increase of 27.2% from 2022 and a recovery of 93.8% from pre-pandemic levels.

While the domestic market grew by 20.2% (a recovery of 96.8% of the 2019 level), the international market drove recovery with a 36.5% growth rate (90.4% of the 2019 level).

International traffic recovery drawing nearer to that of domestic traffic emphasises its ‘essential role in propelling the industry’s resurgence and expansion’, says the organisation.

ACI World

ACI World top 10 busiest airports worldwide for total passengers in 2023 (preliminary data, released 15 April 2024). The top 10 airports representing close to 10% of global traffic (806 million passengers), witnessed a gain of 19.8% from 2022 or a gain of 0.7% vis-à-vis their 2019 results (801 million pax in 2019).

“Global air travel in 2023 was chiefly fuelled by the international segment, propelled by several factors,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

“Among these were the anticipated benefits from China’s reopening and a growing inclination towards travel despite macroeconomic conditions.

“While perennial leaders from the US continue to dominate the top 10 busiest airports for passengers, notably Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport retaining its number one position, there are notable shifts.

“Dubai International Airport jumped to second rank for the first time, while Tokyo Haneda International Airport witnessed a remarkable ascent from 16th position in 2022 to 5th in 2023.

“Additionally, the unwavering strength of Istanbul and New Delhi airports keep them in top ranks, marking significant progress over 2019.”

ACI’s airport rankings are based on data gathered from over 2,600 airports across more than 180 countries and territories globally.

“The rankings highlight the crucial role these transportation hubs play in global connectivity, commerce, and economic development,” commented Felipe de Oliveira.

“Airports continue to demonstrate their resilience and adaptability amidst the challenges posed by the ever-evolving landscape of global travel.

“ACI World remains dedicated to advocating for airports worldwide throughout pivotal stages of policy formulation and to advancing the pursuit of airport excellence.”

Stay close to for the top 10 busiest airports for international pax report in the June/July 2024 issue, featuring exclusive interviews with those in the rankings. 

READ MORE: Nine airports ace every stage of the journey in pax-surveyed ASQ Awards

READ MORE: ACI World: China set to overtake US in air travel demand forecast

READ MORE: China Civil Airports Association formalises partnership with ACI

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