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Inside OAG’s 5 Busiest Airports By Seats In 2023

by Staff

With 2023 coming to a close, OAG, the global travel data provider, has disclosed which airports were the busiest during the year in terms of the number of scheduled seats. Naturally, one of the questions was whether, collectively, they have managed to recover to 2019 levels. However, only four out of the top 10 busiest airports in the world in 2023 and only two in the top 5 list managed to do so.



Still, one positive trend can be spotted in the list: all airports’ scheduled seats grew compared to last year, with nine out of ten airports showing double-digit growth. The only facility that failed to do so was Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), the ninth-busiest airport in the world, with 43.7 million scheduled seats in 2023. The other airports that failed to break into the top 5 were:

  • Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN, 43.4 million seats).
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX, 44.4 million seats).
  • Istanbul Airport (IST, 46.3 million seats).
  • Denver International Airport (DEN, 46.7 million seats).


5 Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)

2023 scheduled seats: 48.08 million

  • 2022 ranking: 3
  • 2019 ranking: 13

While Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) has lost two positions compared to 2022, the airport has managed to grow its presence impressively compared to 2019. Furthermore, the gap between the sixth-busiest airport, DEN, is now more than 1.3 million scheduled seats.

Photo: Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport

Next year will mark a special occasion for the airport, as it will be celebrating 50 years of operations. Without looking too much forward, in October 2023, DFW provided an update on its impact on the local economy, saying that it contributes “an estimated $38 billion in direct and indirect payroll support, $24 billion in visitor spending and about $5 billion in state and local tax revenue each year.”

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4 London Heathrow Airport (LHR)

2023 scheduled seats: 49.3 million

  • 2022 ranking: 7
  • 2019 ranking: 7

Undoubtedly, London Heathrow Airport (LHR) had an outstanding year, with the airport breaking into the list of the top five busiest airports after failing to do so in 2022. The largest mega hub in Europe grew its scheduled seats by 23% compared to last year and is about to recover to its 2019 levels, with the airport lagging behind 2%.

A British Airways Airbus A380 departing London Heathrow Airport.

Photo: Jarek Kilian | Shutterstock

LHR unveiled a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Thomas Woldbye, in October 2023. At the time, Woldbye remarked that LHR was a hub that was “the envy of much of the world.” Still, the CEO noted that he would look for ways to “make Heathrow even better for our customers and the British economy.” The airport finished the first nine-month period with 59 million passengers, narrowing its losses down to £19 million ($24.1 million).

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3 Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND)

2023 scheduled seats: 52.6 million

  • 2022 ranking: 4
  • 2019 ranking: 3

Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND), one of the two international airports serving Tokyo, Japan, with the other being Narita International Airport (NRT), has regained its 2019 ranking. That is even though the number of scheduled seats compared to 2019 is still down 4%. Still, compared to 2022, the number of seats grew by 26%.

A panoramic view oof Tokyo Haneda Aiport at night.

Photo: Hit1912 | Shutterstock

According to Japan Airport Terminal, the company that manages HND, the airport has recovered significantly in H1 FY 2023, which ended on September 30th, 2023. The company earned JPY 100.1 billion ($706.5 million) of revenue during the first six months of the financial year, with an operating income of JPY 8.2 billion ($57.8 million). Nobuaki Yokota, the President and CEO of Japan Airport Terminal, remarked that while “the number of foreign visitors to Japan continued to increase significantly,” the prices of “goods continues to rise due to high resource prices and the weak yen, and the labor shortage in the service industry is becoming more serious.”

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2 Dubai International Airport (DXB)

2023 scheduled seats: 56.4 million

  • 2022 ranking: 2
  • 2019 ranking: 4

Compared to 2022, Dubai International Airport (DXB), the Middle East’s global hub, has managed to sustain its position in the ranking. It was also one of the two airports in the top 5 list, the other being DFW, which has grown its scheduled seat numbers compared to 2019 (5%).

An Emirates Airbus A380 on the apron in front of the Dubai International Airport ATC tower.

Photo: Dubai Airports

In November 2023, Dubai Airports, the company managing DXB, said that the airport just had its busiest winter ever, with 20% more weekly flights compared to last year. Rob Whitehouse, the Vice President of Research at Dubai Airports, said that new frequencies added to DXB’s winter schedule “reaffirms our commitment to growing DXB as a major hub and further positioning the airport as a dynamic and competitive player in the global aviation landscape.”

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1 Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL)

2023 scheduled seats: 61.2 million

  • 2022 ranking: 1
  • 2019 ranking: 1

To nobody’s surprise, Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (ATL) has kept its top spot as the busiest airport in the world, an honor that it has been able to celebrate yearly since 1998, except for one time. In 2023, ATL had 61.2 million scheduled seats, 12% more than last year but 3% fewer than in 2019.

A Rainbow seen in the background of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Photo: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

During the current holiday period, ATL anticipates welcoming more than 3.3 million passengers, with the holiday period lasting between December 22nd and January 2nd, 2024. Projections, which ATL shared on December 13th, showed that the busiest day would be December 22nd. Then, ATL should have welcomed 327,624 passengers. The aviation analytics company Cirium’s data showed that on that day, there were 1,063 flights from ATL, with an average of 162.5 seats per flight.

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  • 25209993163_60cecca8c1_o

    Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    ATL/KATL

    Country:
    United States

    CEO:
    Balram Bheodari

    Passenger Count :
    75,704,760 (2021)

    Runways :
    8L/26R – 2743m (9,000 ft) |8R/26L – 3048m (9,999 ft) |9L/27R – 3776m (12,390 ft) |9R/27L – 2743 m (9,000 ft) |10/28 – 2743 m (9,000 ft)

    Terminals:
    Main Terminal | Domestic Terminal

  • dxbapril182019

    Dubai International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    DXB/OMDB

    Country:
    United Arab Emirates

    CEO:
    Paul Griffiths

    Passenger Count :
    29,100,000 (2021)

    Runways :
    12L/30R – 4,000m (13,123ft) |12R/30L – 4,450m (14,560ft)

    Terminals:
    Terminal 1 |Terminal 2 |Terminal 3

  • heathrow_17581988126223

    London Heathrow Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    LHR-EGLL

    Country:
    United Kingdom

    CEO:
    John Holland-Kaye

    Passenger Count :
    19,392,178 (2021)

    Runways :
    09L/27R – 3,902m (12,802ft) |09R/27L – 3,660m (12,008ft)

    Terminals:
    Terminal 2 |Terminal 3 |Terminal 4 |Terminal 5

  • ahq001-756509

    Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    DFW/KDFW

    Country:
    United States

    CEO:
    Sean Donohue

    Passenger Count :
    62,465,756 (2021)

    Runways :
    13L/31R – 2743m (9,000 ft) |13R/31L – 2,834m (9,300 ft) |17L/35R – 2,590m (8500 ft) |17C/35C – 4,085m (13,400 ft) |17R/35L – 4,085m (13,400 ft) |18L/36R – 4,085m (13,400 ft) |18R/36L – 4,085m (13,400 ft)

    Terminals:
    Terminal A |Terminal B |Terminal C |Terminal D |Terminal E

  • Tokyo Olympics flight paths

    Tokyo Haneda Airport

    IATA/ICAO Code:
    HND/RJTT

    Country:
    Japan

    CEO:
    Isao Takashiro

    Passenger Count :
    442,573 (2020)

    Runways :
    16R/34L – 3,000m (9,843ft) |16L/34R – 3,360m (11,024ft) |04/22 – 2,500m (8,202ft) |05/23 – 2,500m (8,202ft)

    Terminals:
    Terminal 1 |Terminal 2 |Terminal 3

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