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Europe’s Disappearance — Top 15 Airports in May 2021

The latest airport ranking —one more time— shows that Europe is still miles behind Asia and the United States when it comes to COVID-recovery. We've analyzed the latest traffic figures and provide you with the latest top 15 airports according to flights, passengers, and cargo.

Top 15 Airports in May 2021

COVID-19 and the aviation industry that is step-by-step recovering continues to shuffle the top 15 airport ranking. Once again, we took a look at the official ICAO traffic figures in terms of passengers, flights (departures), and freight. Therefore, we’re thrilled to provide you with the most up-to-date airport rankings — based on March 2021 figures. Here’s what’s contained in detail:

Top 15 Airports by Passenger Numbers

Key Takeaways

Guangzhou is the world’s biggest airport by passengers
In March 2021, China’s Guangzhou (CAN) airport wins the label “world’s biggest airport” by passenger numbers. Guangzhou recorded an amazing growth of >100% (1.378 mils. passengers) and a total number of 2.5 million passengers. However, Chengdu, Dallas, and Shenzhen also recorded passenger growth of almost 1 million compared to February 2021.

China and the U.S. dominate
It is amazing to see that 14 out of 15 airports are located either in China or the United States of America. New Delhi, at rank 11th, is the only airport that isn’t located in China or the U.S. So that picture clearly shows the massive dominance of these countries in terms of traffic growth at the moment.

Europe disappeared
When looking at the world’s biggest airports, it is devastating to see that there isn’t a single European airport among the top 15. However, that perfectly reflects the current situation of the continent — which is a few months behind China and the U.S. in terms of COVID-rebound.

Detailed Airport Ranking

Passenger Change
(vs. Feb / mil.)
1 (6)Guangzhou (CAN)China2.535+1.378
2 (2)Atlanta (ATL)United States2.309+0.700
3 (4)Chengdu (CTU)China2.280+0.970
4 (5)Dallas (DFW)United States2.253+0.989
5 (7)Shenzhen (SZX)China2.05+0.969
6 (3)Denver (DEN)United States1.959+0.562
7 (-)Chongqing (CKG)China1.819no data
8 (-)Beijing (PEK)China1.754no data
9 (-)Shanghai (SHA)China1.747no data
10 (-)Shanghai (PVG)China1.741no data
11 (1)New Delhi (DEL)India1.706+0.097
12 (8)Charlotte (CLT)United States1.613+0.554
13 (-)Hangzhou (HGH)China1.567no data
14 (11)Orlando (MCO)United States1.564+0.570
15 (12)Phoenix (PHX)United States1.501+0.605
Top 15 Airports By Passenger Number — May 2021


Top 15 Airports By Flights (Departures)

Key Takeaways

Atlanta Airport (ATL) defeated the first rank and operated the highest number of airports in March 2021. Dallas/Fortworth (DFW) recorded an outstanding increase of almost 8,500 additional flights compared to February 2021.

China and the United States dominate again.
Unsurprisingly, Chinese and U.S. airports dominate this ranking too. However, the U.S. perform better and conquer the first five positions. Moreover, 9 out of 15 airports are located in the United States, whereas “only” 6 are located in China.

Detailed Airport Ranking

RankAirportCountryDeparturesDepartures Change
(vs. FEB)
1 (1)Atlanta (ATL)United States29,273+6,504
2 (3)Dallas (DFW)United States26,852+8,456
3 (5)Charlotte (CLT)United States21,665+6,240
4 (4)Denver (DEN)United States21,024+3,905
5 (2)Chicago (ORD)United States20,413+1,887
6 (12)Guangzhou (CAN)China19,889+8,031
7 (-)Shanghai (PVG)China17,813no data
8 (7)Los Angeles (LAX)United States17,399+3,681
9 (6)Phoenix (PHX)United States17,182+3,298
10 (10)Chengdu (CTU)China16,241no data
11 (-)Shenzhen (SZX)China15,884no data
12 (8)New Delhi (DEL)India15,454+1,807
13 (11)Miami (MIA)United States15,423+3,384
14 (-)Beijing (PEK)China15,338no data
15 (10)Long Beach (LGB)United States14,877+2,606
Top 15 Airports By Number of Flights — May 2021

Top 15 Airports By Freight Tonnes

Key Takeaways

As always, the airport ranking by freight looks different compared to passenger numbers and flights. Nevertheless, Memphis surpasses Hong Kong and wins the gold medal as the biggest airport by freight tonnes. Memphis is also the airport with the biggest increase compared to the previous month (+108,000 tonnes).

Contrary to the above rankings, we can find airports from other countries than China and the U.S. in the below list. And it’s the only list that includes airports from Europe (Frankfurt and Paris) and the Middle East (Dubai and Doha).

Detailed Airport Ranking

RankAirportCountryFreight TonnesFreight Change
(vs. FEB)
1 (2)Memphis (MEM)United States307,000+108,000
2 (1)Hong Kong (HKG)China288,967+87,000
3 (3)Shanghai (PVG)China286,468+91,000
4 (5)Anchorage (ANC)United States233,383+74,000
5 (4)Incheon (ICN)South Korea230,647+49,000
6 (8)Taipei (TPE)China198,862+55,000
7 (7)Louisville (SDF)United States194,454+47,000
8 (10)Tokyo (NRT)Japan192,617+47,000
9 (9)Chicago (ORD)United States187,443+47,000
10 (6)Doha (DOH)Qatar187,149+34,000
11 (11)Los Angeles (LAX)United States181,665+49,000
12 (12)Miami (MIA)United States179,964+32,000
13 (14)Dubai (DXB)United Arab Emirates173,906+39,000
14 (13)Frankfurt (FRA)Germany168,086+27,000
15 (15)Paris (CDG)France147,000+18,000
Top 15 Airports By Freight Tonnes — May 2021

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Benjamin Walther

CEO, Frankfurt

Benjamin is Information Design's CEO and a proven content-maniac. Besides running a successful business and developing pioneering ideas, he's dedicated to writing blog posts and creating content.

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