The Airports Council International (ACI) has revealed its study of the world’s busiest airports in 2016, with Atlanta-Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) retaining its top spot with over 104 million passengers and 2.6 per cent growth from 2015.
Beijing Capital International Airport, despite pundit expectations that it would reign supreme by 2015, held onto the second spot. Having grown five per cent to over 94 million passengers in 2016, China’s busiest airport saw subdued growth in previous years as it faced continuing capacity constraints.
In third position again is Dubai, with total passenger traffic growing 7.2 per cent in 2016. As a major connection point for longhaul international flights, the airport is also the world’s busiest in terms of international passengers ahead of London-Heathrow (seventh position).
Asian airlines continued to make inroads in the North American market on key international and trans-Pacific segments across airport pairs, particularly between North America and China. A major Chinese airports serving the trans-Pacific and other international routes is Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), which moved up to ninth spot after growing 9.8 per cent in 2016 to over 66 million passengers.
The Chinese hub also serves the catchment area of Shanghai, one of the most populous city markets in the world and a major centre for trade and business. PVG, which represents over 60 per cent of Shanghai’s passenger traffic in 2016, and Hongqiao, the city’s sister airport, surpassed the 100 million passenger mark in combined passenger traffic.
Other fast-rising hubs is Seoul’s Incheon International Airport, now in 19th place, which experienced 17.1 per cent year-over-year increase in passenger traffic. Even after factoring in the effect of the outbreak of the Middle East respiratory syndrome, which depressed passenger figures during the summer of 2015, Incheon would still have achieved an estimated growth rate of at least 10 per cent.
The continued growth of LCCs on key segments and the start of A380 flight operations of longhaul routes have paved the way for traffic expansions, while another key contributor relates to the consolidating demand of Korean and Japanese international routes. Tokyo Haneda, the world’s fifth busiest airport and Japan’s largest, grew 5.5 per cent in total passenger traffic for 2016.