plane landingEver wondered what the busiest airports are in the world? The truth may surprise you. Many of us, myself included prior, would imagine the major airports in world cities to host the most passengers throughout the year, like New York City’s JFK or Tokyo International. Though they both made the list, there are a good number of airports ahead of them.

These are the world’s busiest airports, according to Airports Council International. Currently, Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Indonesia) and the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (China) are not included due to missing information.

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Notice that Atlanta, of all places, is the busiest airport in the world?!?!? That’s right, Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson continues its streak as the airport with the most passengers passing through for the 7th year in a row, since 2005. Why Atlanta? A few reasons might include:

  • Delta Airlines is headquartered at ATL, and it is the world’s largest airline, at least until United and Continental finalize their merger. The Delta Hub at ATL is the world’s largest airline hub.
  • It is a large international hub, instead of Miami or Fort Lauderdale, for people from all over the US to connect to continue on to Mexico, Central America, and South America.
  • UPS is also headquartered in Atlanta, and they average 15 million shipments per day, so some of that must go through ATL.
  • AirTran airlines is headquartered at ATL.
  • Many other international companies headquartered in the Atlanta area, such as SunTrust Bank, Coca-Cola, and CNN.
  • Land in the Atlanta area is cheap and widely-available.

Even still, it’s quite weird, huh? Chicago’s O’hare beats out LAX, though Los Angeles has a million more people and Chicago is landlocked. And Denver, of all places, is in the top 10! Denver International is the third largest airport in the world, at 53 square miles, and is the main hub for Frontier Airlines. All in all, 13 of the top 30 of the busiest airports in the world are located in the United States.

This data was calculated by ACI using numbers registered in the first half of 2011, from January through June. ACI counted a passenger as someone who arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport on any given day. The full list for the entire year of 2011 will be available in early 2012.