Atlanta May Lose 'World's Busiest Airport' Title to Beijing

For the past six years, Georgia’s sprawling Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) has been the world’s busiest airport, moving “nearly 90 million passengers annually” as its website likes to boast. But look for that to change in 2012.

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Beijing Airport to Overtake Atlanta in 2012

According to the Centre for Pacific Aviation (CAPA), “it is only a matter of time before Atlanta is dethroned” and a new king of all airports is crowned: Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK).

Growth at the Beijing airport has been nothing short of explosive with passenger numbers rising more than 43 percent this year. The huge airport, which is located just 20 miles northeast of the capital’s city center, is expected to see 8.38 million passengers this month, just 400,000 fewer monthly passengers than Atlanta. Analysts say, watch for Beijing to overtake Atlanta in the coming year.

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The Beijing airport is a hub for Air China, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines, and is served by U.S. carriers including American (from Chicago), Delta (from Detroit, Seattle, Tokyo), and United (Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, Washington-Dulles).

Tokyo Airport Moves Ahead of London Heathrow

Atlanta isn’t the only airport facing new challenges from Asia; CAPA says Tokyo’s Haneda (HND) surpassed London’s Heathrow (LHR) this week and the Japanese airport is now the world’s third busiest.

One analyst says North American and Europe overall are experiencing a “decline” while flights within Asia have risen sharply, and regions like Asia Pacific and Latin America are steadily increasing traffic.

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Published: December 8, 2011