The 10 Busiest Airports in the World

On January 1st 1914 the world was introduced to the first commercial flight. The St Petersburg - Tampa Airboat Line had a very short life span - 4 months to be exact - but it paved the way for a revolution in travel. Commercial air travel was born & the world suddenly became a much smaller place.

Fast forward over 100 years and the world is more accessible than ever before; flights are cheap, Travel is easy & staying connected with the world is as simple as a swipe of the thumb. We live in the greatest age for travel full stop.

With so many travellers & endless flights hosted by 100’s of airlines, airports are having to keep up with ever increasing demands. In this blog we cover the 10 busiest airports in the world based on passenger traffic.

Before we start the countdown… Any guesses??

Number 10

Number 10

Number 10 - Charles De Gaulle Airport

Originally named Aéroport de Paris Nord (North Paris Airport), construction began on this mega airport in 1966 upon it’s completion it was renamed Charles De Gaulle Airport in honour of Charles De Gaulle (1890-1970).

Charles was formerly the president of France from 1959 - 1969 & was a pivotal leader pre & post WWII. Charles De Gaulle Airport is the principle hub for Air France & other legacy carriers. Its centralised European location makes it a popular hub for international flights entering/exiting Europe.

Location: 25km’s northeast of Paris
Code: CDG/LFPG
Passengers in 2017: 69,471,442

Number 09

Number 09

Number 09 - Shanghai Pudong International Airport

China has the biggest population of any country on earth & arguably boasts the most powerful economy on earth. It would be silly to not expect China to have some significant air traffic. Shanghai Pudong International Airport trails Beijing & Hong Kong in passenger numbers but it does hold the lead when it comes to international arrivals/departures.

This airport is also set to overtake Beijing’s numbers by 2019.

Location: 30km’s east of Shanghai city centre
Code: PVG
Passengers in 2017: 70,000,000

Number 08

Number 08

Number 08 - Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong is a worldwide hub for business, innovation & a gateway to the east. Hong Kong International Airport was built on reclaimed land, the island was named Chek Lap Kok. The airport has been in commercial operation since 1998 replacing Kai Tak Airport.

Hong Kong International Airport serves as a gateway to mainland China but is set to be overtaken shortly by Shanghai Pudong International Airport. This airport is also the hub for Cathay Pacific.

Location: 33km’s from Hong Kong City Centre
Code: HKG/VHHH
Passengers in 2017: 72,900,000

Number 07

Number 07

Number 07 - Heathrow Airport

The busiest airport in Europe & if you were to count just international passengers Heathrow airport sits in a cushy second place. With domestic and internationals Heathrow drops to seventh but still boasts some fairy impressive figures.

Heathrow airports history dates back to the 1930’s & was originally called Harmondsworth Aerodrome, then The Great West Aerodrome, and sometimes Heathrow Aerodrome. Chances are if you are visiting England or Europe you will be landing in this airport.

Location: 23 km’s west of central London
Code: LHR/EGLL
Passengers in 2017: 78,000,000

Number 06

Number 06

Number 06 - O’Hare International Airport

Located in Chicago Illinois this airport is a central hub for all flights arriving or transiting through North America. From 1961 - 1998 O’Hare International was the busiest airport in the world and briefly reclaimed the title in 2014.

O’Hare was the first major international airport built post WWII and it’s construction saw some of the greatest innovations in modern airport designs.

Location: 23km’s Northwest of The Loop Business District of Chicago
Code: ORD/KORD
Passengers: 79,800,000

Number 05

Number 05

Number 05 - Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

If you have been reading through the countdown you have probably been wandering when LAX was going to make an appearance. A lot of you probably guessed that LAX would take the crown as busiest airport in the world.

LAX is definitely a busy airport and holds the record for the busiest origin & destination airport in the world. Meaning more people start and end their trips at LAX than any other airport on earth.

Location: 30km’s Southwest of Downtown L.A
Code: LAX
Passengers: 84,550,000

Number 04

Number 04

Number 04 - Tokyo Haneda International Airport

Tokyo’s Haneda International Airport mainly handles domestic flights but does offer limited international services as well. Haneda’s sister airport Narita International, handles most of the international flights departing & arriving in Tokyo.

Japan is a global hub for business with Tokyo as the beating heart so it makes sense that so many domestic flights come through Tokyo every year.

Location: 14km’s south of Tokyo station
Code: HND/RJTT
Passengers in 2017: 85,400,000

Number 03

Number 03

Number 03 - Dubai International Airport

Dubai is basically the central hub for long-haul flights across the world, of course it is going to be a busy airport. Dubai may be number 3 on this countdown but the airport holds several of it’s own records.

Dubai International is the busiest airport in the world if we consider internationals only. The Airport generates over $26 Billion for Dubai’s economy (roughly 27% of the cities total) & employs over 90,000 people. The airport is the busiest airport in the world running off two run ways & it’s terminal 3 is the biggest terminal in the world.

Dubai International Airport is an incredible airport and is well deserving of it’s third place finish.

Location: 4.6km’s east of Dubai
Code: DXB/OMDB
Passengers in 2017: 88,000,000

Number 02

Number 02

Number 02 - Beijing Capital International Airport

In 2002 Beijing Airport was sitting at a measly 26th busiest airport in the world but in the past 16 years the airport has almost tripled it’s passenger count. You may be thinking that Beijing will be set to take the top spot then, think again this airport has reached it’s capacity and a new international airport will soon be opening in Beijing.

The airports code - PEK - is based upon its romanised name, Peking. That just makes me think of Peking duck.. YUM! China is a growing international presence and with more travelers expect more top 10 airports to emerge over the next decade.

Location: 32km’s northeast of Beijing
Code: PEK/ZBAA
Passengers in 2017: 95,800,000

Number 01 with over 100 million passengers a year!

Number 01 with over 100 million passengers a year!

Number 01 - Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Bet you didn’t guess this one! Most people don’t consider Atlanta to be a major air traffic hub but it is. Atlanta’s convenient location makes it a central destination for several international & domestic lines to transition passengers.

The majority of the flights coming through Atlanta are domestic as Americans commute daily for business, leisure & personal reasons. Atlanta International is also the hub for Delta Airlines, the second biggest airline in the world.

Location: 11km’s South of Atlanta’s business district
Code: ATL/KATL
Passengers in 2017: 104,000,000!!


Travel is becoming more accessible to the world every year so expect air traffic to continue increasing. What will the airports of the future look like & will any airports overtake Atlanta to take the top spot?

Enjoy our blogs? Please subscribe & help support our work.

Life is Great. Travel is Better.
Paulo & Jacques