Airports Council International (ACI) has published preliminary figures for the world’s busiest airports in 2020, showing the dramatic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Seven of the top ten busiest airports worldwide (in terms of passenger numbers) last year were in China, with Guangzhou Baiyun International airport topping the list – up from 11th position in 2019.

Atlanta airport was in second place (down from first in 2019), followed by Chengdu, Dallas Fort Worth, Shenzhen, Beijing Capital, Denver, Kunming, Shanghai Hongqiao and Xi’an.

Dubai International, London Heathrow and Paris CDG were all listed in the top ten in 2019 but dropped significantly in 2020, as Covid-19 decimated demand for international flights.

Dubai continued to welcome the most international passengers of any airport worldwide, although those figures were down 70.1 per cent, while London Heathrow lost second place in the international passengers rankings to Amsterdam Schiphol.

Last month Heathrow published its latest monthly passenger figures of just 500,000, capping “12 months with passenger numbers at their lowest since 1966”.

Heathrow passenger numbers “at their lowest since 1966”

The full top ten lists for both overall passengers and international passengers can be seen at the bottom of this article.

Global passenger traffic at the world’s top ten busiest airports decreased by 45.7 per cent in 2020, while overall passenger traffic at the world’s airports dropped by 64.6 per cent.

“The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” said ACI World Director General Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

“The data published today reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

“The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

“With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realized with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.”