Global air passenger traffic surpassed 6.6 billion in 2022 with the return of international traffic, according a report from Airports Council International (ACI) World.

While US airports took four of the five the top rankings, Dubai International Airport (DXB) came in at fifth. The ranking covers both domestic and international passengers.

Atlanta in the US took the top spot with 93.699 million passengers, while Dallas/Fort Worth (US) came in second with 73.362 million. Denver (US) was third with 69.286 million, Chicago (US) fourth with 68.34 million and Dubai (UAE) was at fifth position with 66.069 million passengers, the report said.

An earlier report said DXB maintained its top position as the busiest airport for international passenger traffic for the ninth consecutive year in 2022.

ACI World's latest World Airport Traffic Dataset reveals the top 20 busiest airports in the world and the airport passenger, cargo, and aircraft movement rankings for over 2,600 airports across more than 180 countries and territories.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “In the face of cost pressures and tight labour markets, the world’s airports continue to serve the public’s thirst to travel by air. Airports have once more proven their resiliency as reflected in the key findings from the ACI World Airport Traffic Dataset. As always, reliable data remains fundamental to our advocacy and development of timely airport guidance. Airports and aviation stakeholders must continue to focus wholeheartedly on building a safe, secure, efficient, and environmentally sustainable air transport system fit to welcome the doubling of passengers that will travel through our doors in the next two decades.”

ACI collects airport traffic every year through its global network of airport operator members, investors, and aviation stakeholders. The dataset allows users to filter through accurate and reliable numbers that can be segmented on a regional, national, and airport level and by traffic type.

Passenger traffic

Global total passengers surpassed 6.6 billion in 2022, representing an increase of 43.8% from 2021 or a recovery of 72.5% versus pre-pandemic result (2019).

The top 20 airports for global passenger traffic represent 18% of global traffic (1.2 billion passengers).

The rankings welcome back some of the world’s largest airport hubs as international traffic returns. The global share of international traffic increased from 25.3% in 2021 to 38.4% in 2022.

From the top 20 rankings, 10 airports are in the US, almost all have significant domestic passenger shares (between 75%–95%).

The biggest jump in the top 20 rankings is recorded for Heathrow Airport, leaping from 54th to 8th rank as all travel restrictions were lifted by the UK Government in March 2021 after two years of impediment.

Air cargo traffic

Global air cargo volumes decreased by 6.7% year-over-year (-2.6% versus 2019), to close to 117 million metric tonnes in 2022. The decline can be attributed to the ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global trade and supply chains.

Air cargo traffic is more concentrated amongst the main airports: volumes in the top 20 represent around 42% (49.5 million metric tonnes) of the global volumes.

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport — home to Amazon Air's primary US Hub and DHL Express' Global Superhub for the Americas — witnessed the largest cargo volume growth (+16.8%) amongst the top 20 airports.

Aircraft movements

Global aircraft movements were close to 85 million, representing a gain of 14.8% from 2021 results or a recovery at 82.4% from pre-pandemic levels.

The top 20 airports represent 11.4% of global traffic (9.7 million movements). From the top 20 rankings, 13 airports are in the U.S.

Airports Council International (ACI), the trade association of the world’s airports, is a federated organisation comprising ACI World, ACI Africa, ACI Asia-Pacific, ACI Europe, ACI Latin America and the Caribbean and ACI North America. As of January 2023, ACI serves 712 members, operating 1925 airports in 171 countries. 

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