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Industry outlook

Tracking recovery: the world’s busiest airports

November 5, 2021

There’s a long way to go before the global airline industry returns to pre-pandemic levels of capacity.

by Jeremy Bowen, CEO

Jeremy Bowen CEO
Jeremy Bowen, Cirium CEO

Last quarter, the number of scheduled seats worldwide was still down 24% from the same quarter in 2019. But some markets are recovering faster than others, and some are even growing. Below is a look at the status of the world’s 20 busiest passenger airports ranked by seats scheduled last quarter.

Miami (MIA) is one clear winner, benefiting from the surge in Florida tourism. Also faring relatively well are large midcontinent hubs like Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Denver (DEN), both able to capture lots of domestic traffic flows.

China is a mixed case; its airline market remains about a tenth smaller than it was based on seat counts, but some markets are faring well including the technology hub Shenzhen (SZX), which is likely benefitting from setbacks in neighboring Hong Kong. Chongqing (CKG) in China’s interior is a clear standout. But disregard the large increase at Beijing’s new airport, which only first opened in late 2019. The Beijing market as a whole remains down.

As for laggards, airports more dependent on long-haul international traffic are climbing back more slowly. London Heathrow (LHR) and Dubai (DXB) are two prominent examples. Tokyo Haneda, despite greater exposure to domestic business, is similarly slow to recover.

World’s busiest airports

World's busiest Airports q3 2021
source: Diio by CIrium

For more airport data and solutions visit Cirium at the 2021 ACI-NA Annual Conference and Exhibition or click over to Cirium’s airports page.

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