Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

This is the Busiest Airport in the World, According to a New Report

8 out of the 10 busiest airports worldwide in 2021 were located in the United States.


Airports are about to hit peak summer travel season and as many begin to plan their first major trips in years, airports are undoubedtly busy places to be right now.

ESB Professional | Shutterstock

Last year, many people began dabbling in the art of traveling again, with some countries and cities loosening restrictions while others remained locked down.

Regardless, travel in 2021 saw a massive increase from the days of 2020 when the pandemic made flying nearly impossible or extremely difficult — domestically and internationally.

But a new report shows that the pandemic didn't slow down Americans when it came to traveling in and out of the country's aiports.

In fact, the U.S. claimed 8 out of the top 10 spots for the busiest airports in the world of 2021, per the findings by the Airports Council International (ACI) World.

The report found that an estimated 4.5 billion global passengers flew during 2021, a near 25% increase from 2020, and noted that the passenger traffic in and out of the top 10 busiest airports accounted for nearly 10% of total global traffic in 2021 at 463 million passengers (up just shy of 52% from 2020.)

Related: Cars Abandoned, Hours-Long Security Lines as Major U.S. Airport Grapples With Fuel Shortages

The number one busiest airport in the world was the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) located in Atlanta, Georgia which saw a whopping 75.7 million passengers through its gates in 2021, up over 76% year over year but down around 31.5% from 2019 and the pre-pandemic days.

ATL is followed by DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) which saw around 62.5 million global passengers in 2021 and then DEN (Denver International Airport) with around 59 million global passengers.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport round out the top 5, with the first international airports making the cut in slots 8 and 9, both located in China (Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport, respectively.)

Of the top 10, Orlando International Airport had the highest percentage increase year over year, with a massive 86.7% increase in global passengers from 2020 to 2021.

"The ACI World passenger traffic rankings tell the story of an encouraging trend of recovery, with most of the recurrent busiest airports pre-COVID-19 back at the top," ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira explained of the report. "Although we are cautious that recovery could face multiple headwinds, the momentum created by reopening plans by countries could lead to an uptick in travel in the second half of 2022.

Related: JetBlue Announces Major Shift for the Summer After Hundreds of Flight Cancellations

The U.S. operates nearly a third of all airports worldwide, which is more than any other country with about 15,000 total airports.

Still, U.S. airports are not completely in the clear and back to business as usual.

Just this week, JetBlue announced that it would be cutting summer flights and capacities due to staff shortages in an effort to curb cancellations.

Hundreds of flights were cancelled earlier this month alone thanks to inclement weather that left many unable to get to and out of the Northeast and Florida, leaving many customers disgruntled and stranded.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport was also under fire recently after low fuel supplies mixed with a massive influx of passengers left customers on security lines for hours, with many abandoning their cars that were backed up on airport ramps to run inside in an attempt to catch their flights.

Still, outlook looks hopeful.

"We are past the deepest point of the crisis," International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General Willie Walsh said last October, per Reuters. "While serious issues remain, the path to recovery is coming into view."

Passenger revenue is anticipated to hit $378 billion this year, a 67% increase year over year.

Entrepreneur Editors' Picks