Top 5 Largest and Busiest Airports in the World

Updated on March 9, 2017
Airport Sign--Airports have become a multi-billion industry around the world.
Airport Sign--Airports have become a multi-billion industry around the world. | Source

Biggest, Busiest Airports in the World

All of the airports mentioned in this article are marvels of engineering. Without these airports, the world would not be the same today, as they are responsible for a significant portion of the transportation of cargo. It is likely that your mail or package went trough one of these facilities. These airports help lift local economies and sustain employment for thousands of people around the world.

Next time you travel trough one of the busiest airports in the world, stop to think for a second about how large and impressive the airport's operations are. It is simply amazing how these airports solve enormous logistical challenges while getting you and your baggage where you're going in a timely and efficient manner.

This is a list of the biggest/busiest airports in the world, ranked by the total number of passengers that have departed or arrived through the airport in one year.

O'Hare Airport on the Map

A markerO'Hare -
O'Hare, Chicago, IL, USA
get directions

#5 Chicago O'Hare International Airport

O'Hare International Airport is located in northwestern Chicago, IL and it's one of the world's most popular airports. In 2013, 66,883,271 passengers passed through O'Hare International, making it the fifth busiest airport in the world.

O'Hare has been a very important strategic partner for several of the biggest airlines in the USA. It is the home of the second-to-largest United Airlines hub, and nearly 50% of all O'Hare International passengers travel with United. It has also partnered up with American Airlines; currently, O'Hare International is the second largest hub for American Airlines and it plays a huge role in AA's midwest business.

O'Hare International has always been considered one of the best airports in the USA, and it has won numerous awards for excellence from US travelers. With its great reputation and implacable service, O'Hare is one of the most recognized names in the airline business, and it continues to grow and build upon the already great image it has in the world of traveling.

Chicago's O'Hare Airport: Aerial View

O'Hare Airport
O'Hare Airport | Source

#4 Tokyo International Airport--Haneda Airport

The Tokyo International Airport (also known as Haneda Airport) ranks as the fourth largest airport in the world. In 2013 there were 68,906,636 people that passed through Haneda Airport. It continues to see growth in passenger traffic and continuously expands to accommodate that growth.

The Tokyo International Airport used to handle mostly domestic airline traffic. However, the Japanese transportation authority recently opened an international terminal which has increased passenger numbers tremendously. As it stands today, Haneda Airport is able to handle more than 90,000,000 passengers per year; however that number will certainly grow quickly as the airport is still looking to acquire contracts with more international airline companies.

Haneda Airport is the hub for Japan's two biggest airlines--Japan Airlines and Nippon Airways--as well as various low-cost airlines. Tokyo International Airport is a top notch, world class airport, and it is widely recognized as one of the most punctual airports in the world.

Haneda Airline (Tokyo International) on the Map

A markerTokyo International -
Haneda Domestic Airport (HND), 3-3-2 Hanedakuko, Ota, Tokyo 144-0041, Japan
get directions

Aerial View of Tokyo International (Haneda) Airport

Haneda International Airport--Tokyo
Haneda International Airport--Tokyo | Source

#3 London Heathrow Airport

London Heathrow Airport is one of the most popular airports, and it is the busiest airport in the United Kingdom. Heathrow ranks 3rd busiest in the world with an impressive 72,368,630 passengers last year and ranks #1 for the highest annual amount of international passengers.

Heathrow Airport is the hub for one of the world's largest and most influential airlines, British Airways. The future looks bright for Heathrow, as there are plans for even further expansion by adding a third runway near the north end of the airport which will significantly increase the amount of passengers that can travel trough Heathrow. Also, there are other proposed features including a much-needed rail link between Heathrow and Gatwick Airport (the other large airport near the city of London).

London Heathrow Airport on the Map

A markerHeathrow -
Heathrow Airport (LHR), Terminal 1, Greater London TW6 1AP, UK
get directions

Aerial View of London Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport in London
Heathrow Airport in London | Source

#2 Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport is the largest/busiest airport in Asia and ranks at the number two spot worldwide in that category, with 83,712,355 passengers in 2013.

It is the hub airport for several large airlines including Air China, China Southern Airlines, and Hainan Airlines. The Beijing Capital International Airport has been expanding tremendously for the past decade and has increased its passenger throughput by 4.1% just in the past year.

With the Chinese economy booming and Beijing becoming one of the world's top business centers, Beijing Capital International Airport will continue to grow and meet the demand for outstanding world class airport services.

Aerial View of Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport is beautiful at night!
Beijing Capital International Airport is beautiful at night! | Source

Beijing Capital Airport on the Map

A markerBeijing Capital Airport -
Capital International Airport, 首都国际机场 (PEK), Chaoyang, Beijing, China, -
get directions

#1 Largest Airport in the World: Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia, USA is the world's most busy airport, and it has earned that title with a whopping 94,430,785 passengers last year. Chances are that you or someone you know has passed through Hartsfield–Jackson, as it is the largest connections hub in North America.

Hartsfield–Jackson is the hub airport for Delta Airlines, AirTran Airways, and several smaller airlines. Delta Airlines represents a huge part of Hartsfield–Jackson's business as it flies nearly 60% of all ATL passengers.

This airport is the epitome of world class, as it has held the number one spot for over a decade now. The people of Atlanta should be very proud of their airport, as it is considered a model for airports around the world including some of the largest like Heathrow and Beijing Capital International Airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport on the Map

A markerAtlanta Airport -
Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), 6000 N Terminal Pkwy, Atlanta, GA 30337, USA
get directions

Aerial View of Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport

Aerial View of Atlanta Airport
Aerial View of Atlanta Airport | Source

Busiest Airports at a Glance

Total Passengers in 2013
Atlanta, GA (USA)
Beijing Capital
Beijing (China)
London (England)
Tokyo International
Tokyo (Japan)
Chicago, IL (USA)

Airports Around the World Getting Bigger

The airport industry has evolved tremendously over the past decade, getting bigger and busier every day as airline companies transport as many passengers as possible for the highest profit possible. For the past few years, the industry has been struggling (just like any other industry, considering the global economic recession in the late 2000s) and as a result, people have started finding alternate ways of transportation or even stopped traveling in general. However in the past two to three years, the industry has seen growth and people are starting to depend on airlines to get them places once again.

Airports will certainly grow bigger as a result. A major piece of the airline business is the airports, which are closely tied to the success of the various airlines. Airports have become an industry of their own, as millions upon millions of people pass through each and every month of the year. Often airports are crucial for economic development, national security, and local economies, as airports employ hundreds (in some cases thousands) of local people. As airports continue to strive to capitalize on the millions of potential customers passing through, they continuously expand to meet the demand of their customers.

Where have you traveled?

Which of these airports have you visited?

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Which is your favorite airport on this list?

Which airport is the best?

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    • profile image

      DaNTE 7 weeks ago


      I think you guys forgot the NYC JOHN.F.KENNEDY

    • profile image

      HASIB 2 months ago

      I have never been to any of those airports because of ability but someday god fulfill my wish.

    • profile image

      Hello 3 months ago

      I have never been to any of those airports but someday I will

    • profile image

      Steffen 4 months ago

      Phoenix sky harbor is huge

    • profile image

      Keandra 2 years ago

      Been to one & that's London Heathrow. And yes it is undergoing expansion @ the moment too

    • profile image

      Peerless 2 years ago

      This is a really inelgtilent way to answer the question.

    • traveleze profile image

      Lee John 2 years ago from Preston

      Great Hub! I know London is massive i fly from there quiet a few times :)

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      I have never been on airplane but beijing and japan airport are awesome

    • srsddn profile image

      srsddn 3 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      Quite interesting, pmarinov. I could get a chance to visit London Heathrow airport only, which looked quite busy. Thanks for sharing this useful information.

    • AtlasSue profile image

      AtlasSue 3 years ago

      Just stopped in Atlanta on the way to and from Palm Beach, FL. It really is enormous! Nice Hub!

    • Ashley DeCleene profile image

      Ashley DeCleene 3 years ago from Lexington, South Carolina

      I certainly agree with all of the information you put here, but don't avoid the Middle East airports. Also, Ankara Airport in Turkey is so massive, I felt like I walked for days just to get to the correct ticket area. It was highly confusing! But I can get around Atlanta all day everyday. Oh airports, how I love thee! Now lets talk runways!

    • Arco Hess Designs profile image

      Arco Hess 3 years ago from Kansas City, Kansas

      That's interesting. I actually figured Dubai might be up there, or at least will be soon. They keep creating more and more infrastructure trying to get visitors whichever way possible. I've only ever stepped foot inside one of this (Tokyo) and it was enormous.

    • profile image

      lucy 3 years ago

      Beijing rocks.

    • Suhail and my dog profile image

      Suhail Zubaid aka Clark Kent 3 years ago from Mississauga, ON

      Interesting hub! I have been to two from your list of 5 O'Hare and Heathrow, but the truth is none of my experiences at any airport are bad. I basically use them for transit to take a break from long flights :-)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 3 years ago from Germany

      Very interesting. I have never been to the airports on your list. Maybe one day. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • Oscarlites profile image

      Oscar Jones 3 years ago from Alabama

      I lived in Alaska and worked at a busy rural airport in King Salmon Alaska, but I want to say I was shocked at the experience I had going through some of our own USA airports on my way south through the 80's and 90's. Minneapolis, Phoenix, Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle, Chicago, Anchorage, Fairbanks, New Orleans, and then even smaller terminals such as Memphis, Pensacola and Mobile, while on my way to visit here. Airports are such an important part of travel culture and industry. They house so many jobs, with food service, freight, baggage, travel agents, car rentals, gift shops, trolleys, elevators, buses, pay parking, customs, janitorial, airline offices, aircraft hangers, airport personnel, firefighters, rescue, police, administration, F.A.A., TSA, etc. Airports are little cities almost under one roof! Plus the international factor of commuting and pilotage. A + on this article!

    • Vvitta profile image

      Kalai 3 years ago from Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

      Airports tell a lot about the country we are visiting. It is the first place the tourist sees of the country he/she is visiting. Hence, for me the best airport has to show the elements of the nation. The culture must be seen. All to often, there are nations which lack this element and their airports are just huge, cold buildings with stern faced security. hate these airports. When we step into an airport, it should be symbolic of the nation we are visiting. You will know how much a nation lacks in culture by looking at the airport. They are merely huge.

    • profile image

      Habib khab 3 years ago

      I like PIA

    • profile image

      binyamin 3 years ago

      i like emirates

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 3 years ago from Detroit MI

      I hope I can go and see it in person :)) i bet one day the way things are going Dubai will become the busiest and largest airport in the world

    • profile image

      Mohammad jaleel 3 years ago

      I love only the Dubai Airport,,,,

    • profile image 3 years ago

      Now is the time to use Gatwick Meet and Greet parking services to avoid all tensions and parking fears. An interesting information.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      Most interesting - I would not have thought one of the largest airports would be in China in spite of their huge population.

      I particularly liked the aerial views, too. Those add a very nice touch to the hub.

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 4 years ago from Detroit MI

      Hey YellowTaxis, yes indeed, ATL has been one of the top airports for a while, and their recent expansion plans will make it even bigger airport compared to the rest of the list above.

      Thanks for visiting the hub!

    • profile image

      arwaaz 4 years ago

      I love dubuai

    • YellowTaxis profile image

      YellowTaxis 4 years ago from walsall

      Nice hub, shocked Atalanta had the biggest airport.

    • pmarinov profile image

      Blogger at Best 4 years ago from Detroit MI

      Thanks for the support!

    • koustubh profile image

      koustubh 4 years ago from Mangalore, India

      Nice hub

      thanks for collecting the information

    • The Reminder profile image

      The Reminder 4 years ago from Canada

      The Beijing airport certainly looks nice from up in the air! Great hub.

    • tastiger04 profile image

      tastiger04 4 years ago

      Very interesting hub! I practically grew up the airports and have spent the night in all of these :) due to flight delays, etc...not because I was being a creep haha. Brings back memories! Thanks for the info!! voted up :)

    • creativeaqua profile image

      Yorja Rahmani 4 years ago from India

      Informative article. Airports are such interesting places.

    • Aaron Seitler profile image

      Aaron Seitler 4 years ago from Manchester, United Kingdom

      I certainly learned many things from your hub and its excellent formation and images are smashing.However, I don't know if this is just me being rude and ungrateful yet I would have liked a bit more of a perspective so Top 10 for example instead of Top 5.But well done-it's an excellent hub as it is.

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 4 years ago from Texas

      Nice hub Pmarinov, However the title can be a little misleading since your ranking them by the number of passengers and not actual size and the Denver Airport, the largest in size in the United states is not on the list. But very informative hub, thumbs up.