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Just announced: The busiest airports in the world in 2023

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For the 25th time in 26 years, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) was named the world’s busiest airport.

The Georgia hub again took the top spot in Airports Council International’s annual rankings of the world’s busiest airports for 2023, according to data released by the organization Monday.

Atlanta led the way in total passengers enplaned and deplaned, as it has since the late 1990s with just one exception: In 2020, the airport fell to second place as unusual travel trends at the height of the coronavirus pandemic shook up the rankings.

“It is a testament to our global connectivity and an affirmation of our city’s place on the world stage,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said in a statement Monday.

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Notably, global air traffic surged to nearly 94% of pre-pandemic levels last year, ACI’s report noted — a key step in the recovery from the pandemic, helped by a resurgence in international travel.

“Airports continue to demonstrate their resilience and adaptability amidst the challenges posed by the ever-evolving landscape of global travel,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said in announcing the rankings.

What are the busiest airports in the world?

 Here’s the full list of the top 10 busiest airports in the world for 2023.

Rank Airport 2023 passengers 2022 ranking 2019 ranking
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) 104,653,451 1 1
2 Dubai International Airport (DXB) 86,994,365 5 4
3 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 81,755,538 2 10
4 London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) 79,183,364 8 7
5 Tokyo’s Haneda Airport (HND) 78,719,302 16 5
6 Denver International Airport (DEN) 77,837,917 3 16
7 Istanbul Airport (IST) 76,027,321 7 28
8 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) 75,050,875 6 3
9 Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport (ORD) 73,894,226 4 6
10 Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) 72,214,814 9 17


The rankings include a handful of U.S. airports (alongside Atlanta in the top position) — not to mention some noteworthy shifts.

Busiest international airports

Travel to Japan bounced back in a big way last year, bringing Tokyo’s Haneda back to its pre-pandemic spot as the world’s fifth-busiest airport.

London’s Heathrow was the fourth-busiest airport in the world, climbing from No. 8 in 2022.

Terminal 5 at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Istanbul has seen perhaps the strongest growth in recent years. Before the pandemic, it was the 28th-busiest airport in the world. In 2023, it was the seventh-busiest airport. That airport’s home airline, Turkish Airlines, has been growing at a fast pace — including in the U.S., where it’s announced multiple new destinations in recent years, most recently Denver.

Though New Delhi fell from ninth place in 2022 to tenth in 2023, its four-year growth from 2019 is remarkable, amid that country’s fast population growth — and the corresponding growth of its commercial aviation sector.

Busiest airports in the US

ACI’s ranking of the world’s top 10 busiest airports included five airports in the U.S. Those are:

  1. Atlanta (first overall globally)
  2. Dallas Fort Worth (third)
  3. Denver (sixth)
  4. Los Angeles (eighth)
  5. Chicago’s O’Hare (ninth)

Atlanta retaining the top spot — both in the U.S. and in the world — comes despite enplanements and deplanements being down about 5% from pre-pandemic 2019.

But, it may get even stronger this year.

Delta Air Lines, which calls the airport home, recently noted its 2024 plans include a bigger emphasis on Atlanta and a few other “core hubs,” after spending recent years devoting resources to a rapid build-up at Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) and Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, the strength Dallas Fort Worth and Denver have shown in recent years versus other top U.S. airports LAX and O’Hare continued in 2023.

tsa denver
Denver International Airport (DEN). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Airlines in 2023 offered 9.7% more scheduled seats out of DFW over 2019, according to data TPG viewed from aviation analytics firm Cirium. The growth was even stronger out of Denver: 17%.

On the flip side, LAX and O’Hare both saw scheduled seats shrink by more than 13% over 2019 levels, Cirium data shows.

In 2019, LAX was the nation’s second-busiest airport, and the world’s third-busiest. O’Hare was fourth-busiest in the world as recently as 2022.

It’s worth noting that four of the top five busiest U.S. airports are hubs or focus cities for multiple airlines.

Atlanta is home base for Delta, and an operating base for Southwest Airlines — though Delta is by far the top carrier. Denver is a key United Airlines hub, and a Southwest base. LAX is a hub for each of the three largest U.S. carriers. O’Hare is home base for United, and a hub for American Airlines.

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