Chinese Aviation Races Back, But Atlanta Airport Is Still Busiest In The World

Chinese aviation is making a comeback, but Atlanta airport remains the busiest in the world.

Gary Leff at 16. February 2021.

Ten of the world’s top 20 airports in terms of the number of departing passengers this week are in China, the OAG reports. Some of the world’s busiest airports, such as Hangzhou, Chongqing and Kunming, may be places you’ve never heard of or can’t find on a map.

China’s domestic aviation capacity has collapsed, suggesting that the country has not recovered so well from the Covid-19 aviation crisis. However, the Chinese New Year has brought a trip down memory lane. There are 8% more seats in Chongqing this week than in January 2020.

Despite China’s dominance here at Covid on the eve of Chinese New Year, the world’s busiest airport for domestic flights remains Atlanta – by far the second busiest (17% ahead of the second-place airport). The middle seat lock helps here (Delta steals more seats than it sells), but Delta has largely retreated to Atlanta, and is disrupted as a hub even under normal conditions.

Capacity was reduced by nearly a third in one year, but the airport was already so large that there would still be room even if Dallas shrank less.

Here’s the full list, with Denver now the largest center in the United States.

1,014,824

690,739

2.5%

-31.9%

698,419

590,006

42.7%

-15.5%

605,315

581,883

36.3%

-3.9%

520,763

562,768

40.9%

8.1%

650,980

537,620

4.9%

-17.4%

562,357

534,415

30.9%

-5.0%

668,358

505,923

2.2%

-24.3%

829,733

483,028

0.6%

-41.8%

583,237

481,042

3.5%

-17.5%

627,397

474,244

-1.4%

-24.4%

522,420

456,881

61.6%

-12.5%

502,173

415,802

56.9%

-17.2%

413,893

23.0%

-12.4%

841,142

391,917

11.9%

-53.4%

461,887

372,986

8.5%

-19.2%

388,176

371,171

47.5%

-4.4%

451,681

365,255

43.1%

-19.1%

698,340

359,799

9.0%

-48.5%

540,852

358,742

0.5%

-33.7%

631,461

345,389

3.9%

-45.3%

Airport January 2020 this week last week vs. 2020
Atlanta
Guangzhou
Chengdu
Chongqing
Denver
Shenzhen
Dallas-Fort Worth
Tokyo Haneda
Delhi
Jakarta
Kunming
Xianzang
Shanghai Hongqiao                 472,253
The capital Beijing
Seattle
Hangzhou
Shanghai Pudong
Chicago O’Hara
Charlotte
Los Angeles

Ten of the 20 largest domestic airports are in China, seven in the United States, and only Tokyo Haneda, Delhi and Jakarta have access to other countries. China and the United States have some of the most reliable domestic air networks and limited restrictions on domestic travel.

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