Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is yet again the busiest airport in the world, though it hasn’t quite recovered to the pre-pandemic traffic levels that made it the first airport ever to hit nine digits. 

The airport had announced preliminary numbers, but a report from Airports Council International last week made it official.

The Atlanta airport saw 93.7 million passengers in 2022, shy of the historic 100 million-plus it hosted in the two years leading up to the pandemic in 2020.

The 2022 numbers represent a 23.8 percent increase from 75.7 million 2021, reflecting continued recovery from the pandemic and the return of international travel with the relaxation of restrictions around the world. Delta Air Lines, by far the Atlanta airport’s largest customer, credited international travel for its record profitability in the most recent quarter. 

Hartsfield-Jackson remained 20 million passengers ahead of its closest competitor, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, which came in at 73.3 million passengers last year. It also outpaced Chicago O’Hare in aircraft movements (takeoffs and landings) another measure of airport “busyness,” according to ACI. 

Aside from Chicago, Atlanta’s stiffest competition usually comes from global airports like Beijing, London-Heathrow and Dubai, all of which have suffered from dampened international demand in the last three years.

While Beijing remained in the doldrums due to China’s later timeline for COVID-19 reopening, Dubai jumped 127 percent to No. 5 with 66 million passengers, Heathrow by 218 percent from No. 54 to No. 8 at 61 million, and Paris Charles de Gaulle by 119 percent to No. 10 at 57.4 million. 

Istanbul cracked the top 10, jumping to No. 7 with 64 million passengers, a growth rate of 74 percent from the previous year. 

New Delhi also snuck in the top 10 at No. 9, with 60 percent growth to 59.4 million passengers. 

Here in the Southeast U.S., Charlotte dropped from No. 6 to No. 19. Its traffic increased by just 10 percent to 47.7 million. 

Air cargo was down across the world, as more goods went back on ships and trade patterns moved toward regularity. Atlanta did not rank the top 20 cargo airports worldwide. 

See the ACI report release here. 

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...