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ATL Dethroned as World’s Busiest Airport Amid COVID-19



Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been unseated as the world’s busiest airport after 22 consecutive years in the top spot.

According to new figures released by airport trade organization Airports Council International (ACI), China’s Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was the world’s busiest in 2020 while ATL fell to number two. What’s more, Chinese airports accounted for seven of the world’s top 10 busiest airports last year.

ACI data shows that passenger traffic around the world fell by nearly 65 percent last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with passenger traffic at the 10 busiest airports in 2020 dropping by nearly 46 percent.

Guangzhou led the way with 43.8 million passengers in 2020. However, that figure was still down an incredible 40 percent from 2019, when the airport ranked 11th busiest globally. Meanwhile, ATL saw just 42.9 million passengers in 2020, a figure that signaled a remarkable 61 percent drop from 2019.

Dallas/Fort Worth and Denver were the only two other U.S. airports to crack the top 10 in 2020.

“The data published today reveals the challenge airports continue to face, and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery,” ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira said in a statement. “The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.”

Last spring during the peak of the pandemic, Alaska’s Ted Stevens Anchorage Airport briefly emerged as the world’s busiest airport in terms of aircraft operations.

Here’s a breakdown of the world’s 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic in 2020:

—Guangzhou (CAN)—43.8 million passengers (down 40 percent from 2019)

—Atlanta (ATL)—42.9 million passengers (down 61 percent)

—Chengdu (CTU)—40.7 million passengers (down 27 percent)

—Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW)—39.4 million passengers (down 48 percent)

—Shenzhen (SZX)—37.9 million passengers (down 28 percent)

—Beijing (PEK)—34.5 million passengers (down 66 percent)

—Denver (DEN)—33.7 million passengers (down 51 percent)

—Kunming (KMG)—33 million passengers (down 31 percent)

—Shanghai (SHA) —31.2 million passengers (down 32 percent)

—Xi’an (XIY)—31.1 million passengers (down 34 percent)

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