Several US airports drop in passenger rankings as international travel booms

The U.S. Travel Association suggests that domestic travel may have already peaked in its rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic, while significant growth is occurring in international travel.

ATLANTA – Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International has maintained its ranking as the busiest airport in the world, but changes in the travel industry have caused other airports to gain momentum in passenger throughput.

Airports Council International (ACI) World recently unveiled its annual list of the top ten busiest airports, which span three continents and include half in the U.S.

While Hartsfield-Jackson International retained its position, all other U.S. cities on the list fell at least one position.

Dallas-Fort Worth International came in at No. 3, Denver placed at No. 6, Los Angeles at No. 8 and Chicago at No. 9.

Dubai International Airport jumped to second place for the first time, while Tokyo Haneda International Airport witnessed a remarkable ascent from 16th position in 2022 to 5th in 2023.



Denver International Airport said despite the decrease in its world ranking, the airport reported its busiest year ever.

"During the year, DEN’s carriers served 77,837,917 passengers, a 12.3% increase over the 69,286,461 passengers served in 2022, the previous record," a statement from the airport said. "2023 is the first year in history DEN served more than 70 million annual passengers."

The world’s busiest airport accounted for about 10% of the estimated 860 million in foot traffic.

Airport rankings were based on data from more than 2,600 facilities around the world in some 180 countries.


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International travel drives numbers in 2023

Travel experts suggest that a strong dollar, visa wait times and other global macroeconomic issues have fueled a surge in air travel outside the U.S.

Airports in Dubai, London, Tokyo, Istanbul and New Delhi all made the list of the busiest in the world.

Each region has a unique culture and climate but is generally considered safe on the U.S. State Department’s travel advisory list.

"Global air travel in 2023 was chiefly fueled by the international segment, propelled by several factors," Luis Felipe de Oliveira, the world director of ACI World, said in a statement. "Among these were the anticipated benefits from China’s reopening and a growing inclination towards travel despite macroeconomic conditions."

Despite jumps in travel in countries around the world, none came close to eclipsing Atlanta’s 104.7 million passengers serviced in 2023.

Dubai’s second-place ranking was based on a passenger throughput of 87 million, up about 32% from just a year ago.