Despite a decline in passenger traffic and a slight dip in the number of takeoffs and landings, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remained the world’s busiest airport by both metrics in 2009.

Hartsfield completed 970,258 operations, or takeoffs and landings, during the year. That’s 0.8 percent less than 2008, but the airport still topped all others for the fifth year in a row, according to Federal Aviation Administration data.

The Atlanta airport handled the most passengers for the 12th straight year, according to preliminary data released March 15 by Airports Council International, the main global trade association for airports. Nearly 88 million passengers went through Hartsfield in 2009, a drop of about 2.3 percent compared to 2008. Its nearest competitor, London‘s Heathrow Airport, saw 21 million fewer passengers.

Only seven out of the top 30 airports showed growth in passenger traffic during a tough year for air travel. Of those airports with positive numbers, most were in Asia. China‘s two busiest airports, in Beijing and Guangzhou, posted gains of 16.8 percent and 10.8 percent, respectively, according to the ACI data.

San Francisco International Airport‘s traffic was flat at 0.2 percent, making it the only U.S. airport on the list that didn’t post year-over-year declines.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...