DIA Remains Third-Busiest Airport in the World

Denver International is the world's third-busiest airport. Airport Photo: © Ellen Jaskol, courtesy of Fentress Architects

Post pandemic, Airports Council International (ACI) World has published the top 10 busiest airports worldwide for 2022. DIA has retained its impressive third-busiest ranking.

The rankings welcome back some of the world’s largest airport hubs as international traffic returns, marking an important milestone in air travel’s full recovery from the impact of the pandemic.

Passenger traffic

Denver ranks as third-busiest airport. Credit: ACI

Preliminary figures indicate that with the resumption of international travel, 2022 global passenger traffic reached close to 7 billion, representing an increase of 53.5% from 2021, or a 73.8% recovery from 2019 results.

The top 10 airports for total passenger traffic, representing 10% of global traffic, witnessed a gain of 51.7% from 2021 amounting to 85.9% recovery vis-à-vis their 2019 results.

Holding their positions from 2021, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL, 93.7 million passengers, +23.8%) is at the top of the 2022 rankings, followed by Dallas Fort Worth Airport (DFW, 73.4 million passengers, +17.5%), Denver Airport (DEN, 69.3 million passengers, +17.8%), and Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD, 68.3 million passengers, +26.5%).

From the top 10 airports globally, five are in the United States. They all have significant domestic passenger shares (between 75% and 95% domestic traffic).

Airports reinstated in the upper ranks also include Dubai Airport achieving 5th rank (DXB, 66.1 million passengers, +127%), Istanbul Airport reaching 7th position (IST, 64.3 million passengers, +73.8%), followed by London Heathrow Airport, Delhi Airport, and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport in the 8th, 9th, and 10th spots respectively (see table below).

The biggest jump in the top 10 was recorded for London Heathrow (LHR). The airport improved its ranking from the 54th position as borders reopened in March 2022 after two years of closures.

ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “The new top 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic reflects the resilience of the airport and aviation industry, and the eagerness of passengers to travel by air. While U.S. airport hubs were able to recover quicker due to their strong domestic market, we are now witnessing global hubs joining upper ranks — including Dubai, Istanbul, and London Heathrow airport. While we continue to march forward cautiously amidst multiple headwinds that could impact the speed and magnitude of global air traffic recovery, the latest rankings represent an important milestone in reaching pre-pandemic levels. The re-opening of China, the second largest aviation market after the U.S., is now expected to bring an overall gain, both domestically and for international travel.

“The ongoing recovery of air travel demand would not be possible without the continuous work of airports to provide a safe, secure, efficient, and sustainable air transport ecosystem for the passengers that we depend on and the communities we serve. ACI World will remain committed to representing the best interests of airports on the global stage during key phases of policy development and to promoting airport excellence.”

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