What Are The Busiest Airports In The World?

Air travel continues to grow each year and in 2017 the UN’s World Tourism Organisation declared that international tourist numbers had surpassed 1.3 billion. Air travel across the globe is estimated to double over the next two decades and many airports are making efforts to keep up.

The busiest airports in the world continue to see an increase in passenger growth each year, with some of the busiest airports receiving over 100 million passengers each year. But which is the busiest airport in the world? Which UK airports have the longest security queues? And Which European airports receive the most British tourists each year?

In this article, Panoramic Villas will explore these questions to help you be better prepared for your next holiday away.

The Busiest Airport In The World

According to a recent report from the Airports Council International, the busiest airport in the world continues to be Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, for the 21st year in a row. Over 107 million passengers flew through this airport last year thanks to its convenient location within a two-hour flight for 80% of the US population. Atlanta is also the perfect spot for international visitors to enter North America.

Passenger Traffic Grew By 5% Across The 20 Busiest Airports

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport saw its traffic increase by 3.3% compared to the previous year. However, Beijing might be posed to overtake Atlanta. Beijing surpassed the 100 million passengers mark in 2018 and saw an increase in passenger traffic of 5.4%.

In the third, the fourth and fifth places are Dubai International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and Tokyo International airport. Los Angeles has overtaken Tokyo since the previous year. Dubai Aiport only saw an increase in traffic of 1%, after years of double-digit growth.

Passenger traffic at the world’s 20 busiest airports represents 17% of all global passenger traffic. More than 1.5 billion passengers used these 20 airports. While the world’s busiest airports continue to see growing passenger traffic, smaller airports are continuing to grow rapidly. Much of this growth can be found in Asia, with 12 of the fastest-growing airports are located in either China or India.

Britain’s Busiest Airport

We have looked at the busiest airports in the world, but what about the busiest airports in the UK? It is unsurprising that Heathrow is the busiest airport in the UK, after all, it is the 7th busiest in the world. London Heathrow Airport is one of the world’s busiest travel hubs and in 2018 it saw nearly 80 million passengers travel through its four passenger terminals.

Gatwick comes second with 46 million passengers and Manchester comes in 3rd place with 28 million. The same report from the Civil Aviation Authority shows that nearly 300 million passengers passed through UK airports in 2018.

The Longest UK Airport Security Queues

One of the biggest contributors to travel stress for British tourists in the unpredictability of UK airport security queues. With the ever-increasing presence of airport security being felt during air travel the airport security check is seen as a frustrating, but arguably essential part of the journey. The long queues, combined with painstaking processes, has been the cause of stress for many travellers as they try to reach their gate on time.

A recent study by Which? Travel has revealed that passengers flying through Manchester Airport are likely to face the longest security queue times across the country, with average waiting times of 16 minutes at security. Passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick, by comparison, pass through airport security in less than 10 minutes on average.

Take a look at our graph of the longest UK airport security queues to see if your closest airport is on the list.

Manchester Has The Worst UK Airport Security Queues

Regular passengers through Manchester Airport might not be surprised by these results, as it has consistently failed to meet its self-set target of processing 95% of travellers through airport security in under eight minutes.

Those wishing to avoid the lengthy security queues at Manchester have the option to make use of Manchester Airport’s new PremiAir service, which includes a dedicated security channel which will get you from the terminal to aircraft in just sixty minutes. This new service will cost passengers £50 and must be pre-booked.

Heathrow & Gatwick Have The Shortest UK Airport Security Queues

Despite being the two busiest airports in the UK, Heathrow and Gatwick have the lowest average UK airport security queue times. They are also the only two UK airports that have their queue targets set externally by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Both airports consistently hit their assigned targets to get 99% of passengers through security in under 10 minutes for Heathrow and 98% through in under 15 minutes at Gatwick.

The Busiest Airports In Europe For British Tourists

If there is something us Brits love more than anything else it is a good holiday. Each year millions of UK citizens head overseas for some time in the sun, business or to visit family abroad, but where is the most popular place for Brits to travel?

A survey by Which? Travel has shown which European airports receive the most arrivals from the UK in 2017. Our graph below shows the number of UK arrivals as both a figure in millions and the percentage of the overall international arrivals that were British.

Faro Has The Highest % Of British Arrivals

In 2017, 2.2 million British citizens arrived at Faro Airport in Portugal, which made up an impressive 50% of all arrivals that year. This would make Faro the busiest airport for Brits abroad with the highest percentage of British arrivals. Alicante and Tenerife take 2nd and 3rd place with 43% and 42%.

Amsterdam Has The Most British Arrivals

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport received the most British tourists in a year with 5.1 million Brits arriving. However, this only accounted for 15% of all international arrivals. Malaga came second with 3 million and Alicante came 3rd with 2.9 million.


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