The World's Top 10 Busiest Airports Say A Lot About How International Travel Has Changed Since 2000

The rise of China and the Arab Emirates as transit destinations since 2000 can be seen in the number of passengers frequenting the regions’ key airports.

The Airports Council International has been tracking passenger numbers across more than 1,800 airports and in almost 15 years China’s Beijing has gone from not even getting a mention in the top 30 to taking out the second spot with 83.7 passengers transiting through in 2013.

The Chinese airport was first listed in the top 30 in 2003 with 27.1 million passengers.

Atlanta airport in the US has held onto its status as the busiest airport over that time, clocking 94 million passengers in 2013.

After 9/11 the world’s airline industry was transformed. But the affects of the terrorist attack especially changed airlines in the US. In the ten years since 9/11 airlines across the states cut millions of seats, the number of services it operates, and even stopped flying to certain destinations.

In 2000 the top airports by passenger numbers were all in the US: Atlanta (80 million), Chicago (72 million) and Los Angeles (66 million).

By 2002 Los Angeles had dropped to fifth place with 56 million passengers, Atlanta held the top spot with 76 million passengers and Chicago maintained second spot with about 66 million.

Post 9/11 Dubai has managed to climb into the top ten airports ranked by passenger volumes. In 2013 there were 6.43 million passengers passing through the terminal, up more than 15% year-on-year.

With the rise of Emirates Airlines, Dubai has become a major stopover destination. The Airport Council data only started listing Dubai in its top 30 airports by passenger volumes in 2007 when it recorded a rise of almost 20% to 34 million passengers in that year.

Since then code-sharing agreements have been struck with airlines across the world to help stop hemorrhaging in the competitive international market — especially with the rise of budget airlines. In 2013 Qantas and Emirates formed a partnership which boosted the number of flights Qantas could offer to the Middle East and Europe.

Here are the top 10 airports in the world by passenger volumes.

  1. ATLANTA, USA: 94.4 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 80.1 million in 2000)
  2. BEIJING, China: 83.7 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 27.1 million in 2003)
  3. LONDON, UK: 72.3 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 64.6 million in 2000)
  4. TOKYO, Japan: 68.9 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 56.4 million in 2000)
  5. CHICAGO, USA: 66.7 million passengers in 2013. (Down from 72.1 million in 2000)
  6. LOS ANGELES, USA: 66.6 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 66.4 million in 2000)
  7. DUBAI, Arab Emirates: 66.4 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 34.3 million in 2007)
  8. PARIS, France: 62 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 48.2 million in 2000)
  9. DALLAS/FORT WORTH, USA: 60.4 million in 2013. (Up from 60.6 million in 2000)
  10. JAKARTA, Indonesia: 60.1 million passengers in 2013. (Up from 44.3 million in 2010)

The full list is here.

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