Revealed: World airport traffic rankings for 2020

The results show that the recovery has not been uniform around the world

Industry trade body, Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its preliminary global airport traffic rankings for 2020, revealing the dramatic impact COVID-19 had on what would ordinarily be the world’s busiest facilities. 

Passenger numbers at the top ten busiest hubs decreased by 45.7% during last year. Overall, the global figure decreased by 64.6%, demonstrating that the recovery has not been uniform around the world. 

China Southern
Guangzhou Bai Yun serves as a hub for China Southern Airlines. Wikimedia Commons/Kameeru

According to ACI’s results, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the United States just behind. 

Atlanta/Hartsfield Jackson was denied the top spot falling to second place for 2020. Wikimedia Commons/Formulaone

Of the top ten, seven airports are in China with three in the United States. In most cases, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international flying remains depressed because of ongoing travel restrictions.  

For example, Hongqiao International Airport in China has moved from 46th position in 2019 to the 9th in 2020, illustrating the uneven nature of the impact of, and recovery from, the pandemic across the world. 

Source: ACI World

“The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” said Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World director general. “The data [we have] published reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.” 

International passengers
Source: ACI World

ACI World estimates that there were 58 million global aircraft movements last year, representing a drop of -43% from 2019. The top ten airports represent 7% of global traffic (4.2 million movements) and experienced a drop of -34.3% compared to 2019. Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport surpassed Chicago O’Hare International Airport, after leading in 2019 and 2018.