Atlanta retains position as world’s busiest airport

Atlanta retains position as world’s busiest airport

Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson airport maintained its position as the world’s busiest airport by handling almost 104 million passengers last year.

Beijing held onto second spot with more than 95 million passengers in 2017.

Dubai International remained in third position with more than 88 million passengers and maintained its position as the world’s busiest hub for international passenger traffic.

The figures emerged from trade association Airports Council International which revealed that global passenger numbers rose by a “robust” 7.5% last year over 2016 to reach almost 8.3 billion, equating to 95.7 million aircraft movements.

Asia-Pacific dominated the ranking for 2017, with 13 airports out of the top 30 busiest passenger hubs.

Traffic at the world’s top 30 airports grew 5.4% last year, serving almost two billion passengers, 24% of all global passenger traffic.

Most of the world’s fastest-growing large airports are located in emerging markets, according to ACI World. Sixteen of the fastest-growing top 30 airports with more than 15 million passengers are located in just two countries, China and India.

The data was drawn from more than 2,500 airports in over 175 countries.

Passenger traffic in advanced economies grew 5.2% while passenger traffic in emerging economies increased by 10.3% in 2017.

Rising incomes in emerging markets is expected to help propel global traffic to new heights in the coming decades as new aviation hubs begin to overtake the more mature markets of western Europe and North America.

Sizeable population bases and rapid rises in incomes in emerging markets are the main economic engines driving demand for air transport.

According to ACI, the growth potential can be illustrated by the fact that countries located in emerging markets account for over 85% of the world’s population but less than half of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

ACI World director general Angela Gittens said: “Global passenger traffic has reached record levels as airports continued to make a crucial contribution to furthering economic development and global connectivity.

“While strong competitive forces continue to drive innovation and improvements in efficiency and service for passengers, airports face the challenges of meeting the continuing global growth in demand for air services.

“The core issue for our industry remains how we respond to this demand at a local, national, and international level as physical capacity considerations and potential bottlenecks in air transport infrastructure pose challenges in accommodating future air transport demand.

“To help to ensure communities continue to reap the social and economic benefits of air service growth, national policy should be focused on facilitating growth over the long-term, setting out clear objectives for their aviation sector.

“While airports and their partners strive to provide a positive response to the challenges of growth, the threat of heavy-handed regulation that hinders the economic sustainability of airport investment and operation and changes in international trade policy remain fundamental concerns.”

And she warned: “Protectionist policies that retreat from further economic integration and air transport liberalisation could have adverse effects on the industry.

“Global air service growth has remained resilient but the continuing impact of protectionism and trade wars on international air transport services will likely have a major impact on airports in the future.

“The benefits of increased air travel are clear and further liberalisation should be welcomed to maintain growth and improve connectivity to the benefit of the global trade and local communities.”

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