Lonely Planet Writer

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport named the busiest in the world, for the 18th year

A full 60 years since its first international flight, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport has been named the world’s busiest airport again.

Travellers work their way throught Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport
Travellers work their way throught Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Image by Getty

After 18 years in the top spot, the Georgia hub had been expected to lose its crown to the Chinese capital of Beijing this year, but kept the title its held since 1998 with impressive growth of 5.5% in 2015.

More than 101 million passengers went through Atlanta’s terminals, a significantly higher number than at Beijing who counted almost 90 million passengers, according to the study undertaken annually by Airports Council International (ACI).

Hartsfield-Jackson is a huge international hub, with its strategic location as a connection for entry into the U.S and more than 80 nonstop international services.

In 2015 the airport saw 178 nonstop services from Atlanta to US destinations
In 2015 the airport saw 178 nonstop services from Atlanta to US destinations Image by Getty Images

But it’s also a major domestic center within the U.S. In 2015, the airport numbered 178 nonstop services from Atlanta to U.S. destinations, a big part of its ongoing success as it’s within two hours flying time of 80% of the U.S. population.

The second busiest airport, Beijing, is still snapping at its heels. While passenger growth there has been rapid over the past decade, it slowed from double digits last year. But the airport still saw a healthy 4.4% increase in passenger traffic in 2015.

Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport
Beijing Capital International Airport is the second busiest airport Image by Getty Images

The busiest airport in terms of international traffic was Dubai, just ahead of London’s, Heathrow. Overall, Dubai saw its position jump from sixth busiest airport in 2014, to third busiest overall in 2015, with total passenger traffic growing by 10.7%.

But while Atlanta, with its 1,296 toilets and 57 tons of rubbish produced each year, still holds the crown for busiest, they’d really rather you didn’t use that word.

As “busy” has a negative connotation, airport authorities prefer to think of themselves as the ‘world’s most-traveled’ airport.