Top Airport Rankings 2010 (Provisional figures)

On March 15, 2011, the Airports Council International (ACI) released its 2010 preliminary report for global passenger and cargo traffic, which showed strong increases across both sectors. The statistics revealed that passenger traffic grew by 6.3% when compared to the 2009 figure; cargo tonnage strengthened by 15.2% to 82 million tonnes and aircraft movements recorded a slight rise to 64 million, up by 0.8%. Monthly passenger growth worldwide was consistently high – between 5% and 10% – with the exception of significant setbacks in April due to the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud and in December when unusually harsh winter weather affected many flights across Europe. Despite these, Europe still managed a 4.3% increase last year, thanks to strong international summer and autumn traffic.
“Last year underscored the resilience of the air transport business and resulted in over five billion annual passengers for the first time ever,” reported ACI’s World Director, Angela Gittens. “It highlighted the shift and divergence in development across the regions – while North America and Europe continued to struggle to reach pre- [global economic] crisis passenger volumes, Asia-Pacific, Latin American-Caribbean and Middle East sustained a strong momentum and gained market share through double digit growth,” she said.
A slower than expected economic recovery and restraint by air carriers in adding domestic capacity led to only a modest growth in North America of 2.4%, keeping passenger numbers below the pre-crisis levels in the region, while a 14.2% rise in international passengers carried in the Asia-Pacific region resulted in an overall increase of 11.5%. Latin America and the Caribbean enjoyed strong domestic growth, particularly in Brazil, but other countries in the region also recorded strong figures, particularly where national economies and low-cost carriers expanded quickly. International traffic growth was also important in Africa and the Middle East, which delivered 8.8% and 11.5% rises respectively.
ACI World Traffic Report 2010
The preliminary data covers more than 900 of ACI’s 1,650 members across the globe, accounting for around 93% of global airport traffic, and although there maybe slight variations when its final report is issued in July 2011, the trend will still be one of positive growth. Of the ten largest facilities in the world, Atlanta/Hartsfield-Jackson continues to dominate; it reported handling nearly 90 million passengers during 2010 – around 16 million passengers more than its nearest rival. The fastest growing facility in the top ten was Beijing Capital International with a 13% increase in passenger traffic – up to 73.8 million – which meant it moved up from third place in 2009 into second in 2010.
The biggest top ten casualty was London/Heathrow, which saw its traffic decline 0.2% enough to see it move down two places to fourth, with Chicago/O’Hare also climbing above the UK gateway. The London airport was one of only two facilities in the top 30 to report a decline in traffic, the other was Las Vegas/McCarren International in 22nd place, and its traffic fell 2.9%. While outside the top ten the major movers were Dubai International climbing to 13th place thanks to a 15.4% rise, with Shanghai/PuDong and Jakarta/Soekarno-Hatta both reporting health increases of 27.2% and 18.4% respectively.
Freight Sector
The airline industry’s recovery was more coherent and comprehensive in the freight sector where all regions showed double digit increases, led by Asia-Pacific (+18.6%) and Europe (+17%). The figures show that international freight was the principal driver of the air freight recovery as total tonnage jumped by 20.5% compared to the 2009 total. Hong Kong International Airport has overtaken Memphis International as the world’s busiest cargo hub, with the US facility only recording 5.9% growth, one of only two facilities (the other was Beijing) which failed to record double digit growth over the previous year. According to ACI, “These figures clearly show that the industry is rebounding, but it must be remembered that 2009 was one of the worst years for the sector and so the percentage rises during 2010 were artificially high.”
Across the world, cargo volumes grew by 15.2% in 2010 to 82 million tonnes. Hong Kong, like most other Asian airports, reported strong growth up 23.2% at 4.1 million tonnes. The increases were generally due to exports and imports from China, with Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen all reporting significant rises in tonnage, with Shenzhen becoming the fastest expanding facility in the cargo market. All the top 30 airports disclosed positive figures, with Paris/Charles de Gaulle remaining the busiest cargo hub in Europe, although Frankfurt has closed the gap to just 100,000 tonnes. In the Middle East, Dubai International also continued its dramatic expansion, recording a 17.8% rise.
Aircraft Movements
In terms of aircraft movements, Atlanta/Hartsfield-Jackson remained the busiest airport in the world despite a small decline (-2.1%) in its take-offs and landings. The biggest top ten loss was at Paris/Charles de Gaulle, which dropped from seventh to tenth place with a 4.8% decrease in its movements during the year. Both North America (-1.2%) and Europe (-0.4%) had a drop in movements, attributed to a slower than expected recovery from the economic recession. However, other regions performed a lot better, with Latin America and the Caribbean up 6.2% closely followed by the Middle East (+6.1%) and Asia-Pacific (+5%).
Summing up these preliminary figures, Angela Gittens said; “Passenger and freight growth clearly surpassed global GDP growth in 2010. GDP growth projections for this and coming years are high, creating a positive outlook for the demand for air transport. This underpins the need to continue to expand and modernise airport infrastructure to maintain high standards of efficiency and customer service. More than ever, facilities will be asked to finance these projects autonomously without public funds requiring private and public airports to be empowered to generate necessary returns on their investment.”