Seven of the world's top 10 busiest airports in 2020 were in China while the former world's busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States, fell to No. 2 in the rankings after 22 consecutive years in the top spot.
Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China was the world's busiest airport in 2020, rising to the No. 1 spot from its No. 11 ranking in 2019, according to preliminary figures released Thursday by airport trade organization Airports Council International (ACI).
Dramatic shifts in the top 10 list for passenger numbers — and the decimation of global air traffic overall — is of course because of the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to disrupt travel all over the globe.
Guangzhou saw 43.8 million passengers in 2020, down 40% from 2019. Atlanta had 42.9 million passengers last year, a precipitous 61% drop from 2019.
Atlanta's fall from the top slot is expected to be temporary, according to Patrick Lucas, ACI World's vice president for economics.
"While the industry recovers, we expect ATL to retake its spot at the top in the coming years," Lucas said.
Airports in the Chinese cities of Chengdu, Shenzhen, Kunming, Shanghai and Xi'an were also among the top 10 in 2020, rising from 2019 rankings as low as No. 46 (Shanghai's Hongqiao International Airport) to break into the top 10.
Beijing Capital International Airport, which has often held the No. 2 ranking and held that spot in 2019, dropped to No. 6 on the 2020 list.
2020's busiest airports for passenger traffic
1. Guangzhou (CAN) — 43.8 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 40% from 2019.
2. Atlanta (ATL) — 42.9 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 61% from 2019.
3. Chengdu (CTU) — 40.7 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 27% from 2019.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) —39.4 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 48% from 2019.
5. Shenzhen (SZX) — 37.9 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 28% from 2019.
6. Beijing (PEK) — 34.5 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 66% from 2019.
7. Denver (DEN) — 33.7 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 51% from 2019.
8. Kunming (KMG) — 33 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 31% from 2019.
9. Shanghai (SHA) — 31.2 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 32% from 2019.
10. Xi'an (XIY) — 31.1 million passengers in 2020; traffic dropped 34% from 2019.
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