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The world's 20 busiest airports

Last updated on: December 23, 2010 10:12 IST

The world's 20 busiest airports

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Each year, with rising global population, regardless of whether the global economy expands or contracts, more and more people take to the skies for the first time. And yet another air passenger is born.

The world's busiest airports are ranked here by the number of total passengers, data for which is provided by the Airports Council International.

A passenger is described as someone who arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport on a given day.

The rankings are done as per figures from January to August 2010 (This is the most current available official figure).

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Rank 1: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is located 11 km (7 miles) south of the central business district of Atlanta, Georgia, United States.

It has been the world's busiest airport by passenger traffic and number of landings and take-offs since 1999, serving 88 million passengers per year.

The airport is the primary hub of AirTran Airways, Delta Air Lines, and Delta Connection partner Atlantic Southeast Airlines. The Delta hub is the world's largest airline hub.

The airport has 195 gates, domestic and international.

Hartsfield-Jackson held its ranking as the world's busiest airport in 2009, both in terms of passengers and number of flights, by accommodating 88 million passengers (240,000 passengers daily) and 970,235 flights.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at 59,790,608.

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Rank 2: Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport is the main international airport of Beijing, China.

It is located 32 km (20 miles) northeast of Beijing's city centre.

It was the busiest airport in Asia in terms of passenger traffic and total traffic movements by 2009.

Beijing Capital is the main hub for Air China, the flag carrier of the People's Republic of China, which flies to around 120 destinations (excluding cargo) from Beijing.

The Conde Nast Traveler magazine named the Beijing Capital International as the World's Best Airport in 2009.

To accommodate the growing traffic volume, Beijing Capital added the enormous Terminal 3 in 2008, the second largest airport terminal in the world after Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3, and the third largest building in the world by area.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  48,912,712.

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Rank 3: O'Hare International Airport

O'Hare International Airport is a major airport located in the northwestern-most corner of Chicago, Illinois, United States, 17 miles (27 km) northwest of the Chicago Loop.

It serves as the primary and largest hub for United Airlines.

O'Hare International Airport has been voted the 'Best Airport in North America' for 10 years by two separate sources: Readers of the US Edition of Business Traveler Magazine (1998-2003) and Global Traveler Magazine (2004-2007).

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  44,576,625.

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Rank 4: Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport in the London Borough of Hillingdon, is the largest airport in the United Kingdom.

Terminal 5 was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II on March 14, 2008 and opened to passengers on March 27, 2008.

Construction of a new Terminal 2 complex to replace the terminal building and adjacent Queen's Building began in 2009; the first phase is expected to open in 2014.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  43,484,496.

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Rank 5: Tokyo International Airport

Tokyo International Airport, commonly known as Haneda Airport, is one of the two primary airports serving the Greater Tokyo Area. It is located in Ota, Tokyo, 14 km (8.7 mi) south of Tokyo Station, Japan.

It handles almost all domestic flights to and from Tokyo.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  42,006,407.

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Rank 6: Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles International Airport is the primary airport serving Los Angeles, California, the second-most populated metropolitan area of the United States.

The airport is a major hub for United Airlines, Alaska Airlines and American Airlines and a focus city for Southwest Airlines, Allegiant Air, Air New Zealand, Qantas, and Virgin America.

It also serves as an international gateway for Delta Air Lines.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  39,502,735.

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Rank 7: Charles de Gaulle Airport

Charles de Gaulle Airport, also known as Roissy Airport, in the Paris area, is one of the world's primary aviation centres, as well as France's main airport.

The airport serves as the principal hub for Air France and is a European hub for Delta Air Lines.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  38,859,861.

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Rank 8: Fort Worth International Airport

Fort Worth International Airport is located between the cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas.

In terms of land area, at 18,076 acres (, it is the largest airport in Texas, the second largest in the United States, behind Denver International Airport, and fourth largest in the world, says Wikipedia.

It is the ninth busiest international gateway in the United States, and second in Texas, behind George Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  38,016,962.

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Rank 9: Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport is an airport in Colorado, USA.

By land size, at 53 square miles (140 km2), it is the largest international airport in the United States, and the third largest international airport in the world after King Fahd International Airport and Montreal-Mirabel International Airport.

Runway 16R/34L is the longest public use runway in the United States.

Denver International Airport is the main hub for low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines and commuter carrier Great Lakes Airlines.

Denver International Airport is the only airport in the United States to have designed and implemented an ISO 14001-certified environmental management system that covers the entire airport.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  35,150,666.

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Rank 10: Frankfurt am Main Airport

Frankfurt am Main Airport, or Frankfurt Airport, is by far the busiest airport by passenger traffic in Germany, and the third busiest in Europe.

It serves the most international destinations in the world and is the busiest airport in Europe by cargo traffic. The airport is directly located in the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region, Germany's second largest metropolitan region.

Frankfurt is a hub of Lufthansa, the German national carrier.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at 34,993,928.

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Rank 11: Hong Kong International Airport

Hong Kong International Airport is colloquially known as Chek Lap Kok Airport.

The airport opened for commercial operations in 1998, replacing Kai Tak, and is an important regional trans-shipment centre, passenger hub and gateway for destinations in Mainland China (with over 40 destinations) and the rest of Asia.

Flights are operated by roughly 90 airlines to over 150 cities across the globe.

During the first 10 months of 2010, HKIA is the busiest airport by cargo traffic in the world, ahead of Memphis Airport in USA.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  33,545,000.

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Rank 12: Barajas Airport

Barajas Airport is the main international airport serving Madrid in Spain. It is the country's largest and busiest airport.

The airport name derives from the adjacent district of Barajas, which has its own metro station on the same rail line serving the airport.

Barajas serves as the gateway to the Iberian peninsula from the rest of Europe and the world, and is a particularly key link between Europe and Latin America.

The airport is the primary hub and maintenance base for Iberia.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  33,377,152.

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Rank 13: John F Kennedy International Airport

John F Kennedy International Airport is an international airport located in Queens County, on Long Island, in southeastern New York City.

The airport is approximately 12 miles (19 km) from Lower Manhattan.

Over ninety airlines operate out of JFK. It is the base of operations for JetBlue Airways and is a major international gateway hub for American Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  31,104,761.

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Rank 14: Dubai International Airport

Dubai International Airport is a major aviation hub in the Middle East.

The Emirates hub is the largest airline hub in the Middle East.

The new $4.5 billion Terminal 3 opened on October 14, 2008, and was built exclusively for the use of Emirates Airline.

Concourse 3 is also part of Terminal 3, and is expected to be completed by 2011.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  30,849,555.

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Rank 15: Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the Netherlands' main international airport, located 20 minutes southwest of Amsterdam, in the municipality of Haarlemmermeer.

The airport is the primary hub for KLM.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at 29,888,142.

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Rank 16: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is the main airport serving the greater Jakarta area on the island of Java, Indonesia.

The airport is named after the first President of Indonesia, Soekarno, and the first vice-president, Mohammad Hatta.

In December 2009, ForbesTraveler.com recognised Soekarno-Hatta International Airport as the 2nd most punctual airport in the world with 89.2 per cent of its flights departing on time, and 84.2 per cent arriving ontime.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at 28,434,318.

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Rank 17: Suvarnabhumi Airport

Suvarnabhumi Airport is also known as (New) Bangkok International Airport.

The airport is currently the main hub for Thai Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Orient Thai Airlines, Thai AirAsia and will be a hub for the new Thai Tiger Airways.

Suvarnabhumi is the 5th busiest airport in Asia, having handled 40.5 million passengers in 2009, and is also a major air cargo hub.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  27,798,180.

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Rank 18: Baiyun International Airport

Baiyun International Airport is the main airport of Guangzhou, the capital of the province of Guangdong, People's Republic of China.

In 2009, Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport was China's 2nd busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  27,466,116.

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Rank 19: Changi Airport

Changi Airport is the main airport in Singapore.

A major aviation hub in Southeast Asia, it is about 17.2 kilometres (10.7 mi) north-east from the commercial centre in Changi, on a 13 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi) site.

The airport is the home base of Singapore Airlines, Singapore Airlines Cargo, SilkAir, Tiger Airways, Jetstar Asia Airways, Valuair, and Jett8 Airlines Cargo.

As of September 2010, Changi Airport serves 96 airlines flying off to some 200 cities in about 60 countries and territories worldwide.

The airport is a secondary hub for Qantas.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  27,376,476.

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Rank 20: George Bush Intercontinental Airport

George Bush Intercontinental Airport is a Class B international airport in Houston (Texas, USA), serving the Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown metropolitan area.

Houston is home to the headquarters of Continental Airlines.

Between January and August this year total passenger traffic stood at  27,272,169.



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