World’s busiest airports show surge in international travel. Here are the rankings

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British Airways Airbus A319 aircraft takes off from Heathrow Airport in London, Britain, May 17, 2021. 
John Sibley | Reuters

International travel roared back last year, pushing airports from London to Tokyo up in a global ranking of passenger traffic.

Dubai International Airport ranked second-busiest in 2023, up from fifth place in 2022 and fourth place in 2019, according to Airport Council International’s preliminary ranking, which was released on Monday. Passenger traffic to Tokyo Haneda International Airport jumped 55% last year from 2022, and the airport ranked fifth up from 16th place a year earlier.

Global airports served 8.5 billion passengers last year, up 27% from 2022 but still about 6% below pre-pandemic counts, ACI said, citing preliminary figures.

The resurgence of international travel has been a bright spot for airlines with big international networks, while ultra-low-cost, domestic-focused U.S. airlines have struggled in recent months. Domestic U.S. airports continued to post big gains in passenger counts, but some slipped in the rankings compared with the middle of the pandemic, when international travel restrictions limited long-haul trips abroad.

Nearly 78 million people used Denver International Airport last year, up 12% from 2022, but the airport, a major hub of United Airlines, fell in ACI’s ranking to 6th place from 3rd.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Delta Air Lines‘ biggest hub, once again topped the list of the busiest airports, serving 104.7 million passengers, ACI said.

Here are the 2023 rankings (with 2022 rankings in parentheses):

  1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (1)
  2. Dubai International Airport (5)
  3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (2)
  4. London Heathrow (8)
  5. Tokyo Haneda International Airport (16)
  6. Denver International Airport (3)
  7. Istanbul Airport (7)
  8. Los Angeles International Airport (6)
  9. Chicago O’Hare International Airport (4)
  10. New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (9)

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