Passenger numbers at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International airport increased almost 12% in 2023 to reach 104.7 million, ensuring the Delta Air Lines hub will retain its position as the busiest airport in the world.

Atlanta has for many years been the biggest airport in the world by passenger, bar the pandemic-fuelled exception of 2020 when Chinese airport Guangzhou – boosted by the early reopening of the large Chinese domestic market – led the way.


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Passenger numbers at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport climbed to 104.7 million in 2023

It reclaimed its position as the busiest airport in the world in 2021, and while 2023 passenger traffic statistics for many leading airports are still to be disclosed, another year of strong growth means Atlanta remained the biggest airport by passenger number last year.

Passenger levels at Atlanta increased 11.6% from 93.7 million to almost 104.7 million in 2023. That was driven by an almost 10% rise in domestic passengers to 91.8 million and a 29% jump in international passengers to 12.8 million.

Delta, the airport’s biggest customer, accounted for almost three-quarters of passengers in 2023 at Atlanta. Southwest, which transported 4 million passengers through Atlanta, was the second biggest operator with an 8% share.

It marks the first time Atlanta has passed the 100 million passenger mark since the pandemic, but levels remain below the pre-crisis high of 110.5 million.

While 2022’s second biggest airport, Dallas/Fort Worth, has not yet published full-year figures, data for the 12 months to November 2023 shows growth at a similar 11% pace to just over 81 million.

Denver airport, the third biggest airport in 2022, recorded a 12% rise in passenger numbers to 77.8 million. That is 13% above pre-crisis levels of 69.3 million.

Though Dubai International airport is still to publish full-year numbers for 2023, it in August raised its passenger guidance for the year to 85 million – almost on a par with pre-crisis levels. Achieving that target seems likely to make the Emirates hub the second biggest airport in 2023.

London Heathrow airport has also returned to the higher echelons of airport traffic levels. Passenger numbers climbed 28% to 79.2 million in 2023, the busiest of European hub airports. 

Passenger numbers at fast-growing Istanbul airport jumped to 76 million last year.

Beijing Capital airport was for many years the second biggest airport in the world by passenger numbers – handling 100 million in 2019. But passenger levels at the airport have been impacted by the moving of some traffic after the opening of Daxing airport, and the subsequent drop in traffic resulting from long-running Covid-related travel restrictions.