ACI Media Releases

ACI releases 2014 World Airport Traffic Report: Airports in advanced economies rebound in 2014 – global passenger traffic up by over 5%; air cargo volumes rise after three years of stagnation - Aug 31, 2015

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Montréal, 31 August 2015 –
Airports Council International (ACI) has released the latest edition of the World Airport Traffic Report. With comprehensive data coverage for over 2,200 airports in more than 160 countries worldwide, ACI’s flagship publication remains the authoritative source and industry reference for the latest airport traffic data, rankings and trends on air transport demand.

“Passenger traffic remained resilient in the face of the global uncertainties that beleaguered many economies in 2013 and 2014,” said Angela Gittens, Director General of ACI World. “International tourism, in particular, was irrepressible in 2014 considering the geopolitical risks that have persisted in certain parts of the world, such as Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The Ebola outbreak also presented significant challenges to the aviation sector. Notwithstanding, by and large, the international traveller in 2014 appears to have been immune to these potential dangers. Overall global passenger traffic grew at a rate of over 5%. This is above the 4.3% average annual growth rate in passenger traffic from 2004 to 2014.

“Despite the uneven recovery in the global economy, there was a net increase in global demand for foreign goods and commodities in 2014,” Gittens continued. “The overall flow of exports and imports by sea, land and air, measured by world trade volumes in goods and services, has grown. The American economic rebound and the rise in consumer spending helped stimulate major exporters of high-tech goods such as tablets, laptops and mobile phones. This helped awaken the air cargo market in the last quarter of 2013 and into 2014 after several years of sluggish growth.

“In previous years there was a marked divergence in growth between airports located in emerging markets and those in advanced economies. That is, the mature markets of North America and Europe experienced modest growth levels whereas the major emerging economies such as BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) posted significant gains year after year. However, Europe and North America have rebounded in 2014, which resulted in a form of convergence in growth rates across the regions,” she added.

“Irrespective of the short-run changes in the business cycle, long-term growth prospects in air transport demand will continue to come from emerging markets,” Gittens noted. “This is largely because of the demography of these markets—most of the world’s population resides in emerging markets and developing economies. Liberalization of air transport, sizeable population bases and rapid rises in per-capita incomes in these markets are the main economic engines driving this phenomenon.

“Given the dynamic character of the airport industry, having a reliable data source to count on is more important than ever,” Gittens concluded. “ACI continues to deliver the most comprehensive airport traffic data and rankings in an internationally comparable format to provide our members and the wider aviation and financial industry a global view of the airport industry as a whole.”

Key statistics in brief

Passenger traffic

  • Worldwide airport passenger numbers increased by 5.7% in 2014 to over 6.7 billion, registering increases in all six regions.

  • Atlanta (ATL) remains the world’s busiest airport on the globe with 96 million passengers in 2014. Traffic at the airport was up 1.9% over 2013 while the second ranked Beijing (PEK), with 86 million passengers, experienced more subdued growth of 2.9% in 2014 as compared to the double-digit growth it had achieved in previous years.

  • Airport traffic in emerging markets and developing economies experienced growth of 8%, whereas airports in advanced economies grew by 4% in 2014, with emerging markets reaching a 43% share of global passenger traffic.

  • During 2014, the highest number of passengers went through airports in the Asia-Pacific region:

    1. Asia-Pacific (2.3 billion, up 7.1% over 2013)
    2. Europe (1.8 billion, up 5.5% over 2013)
    3. North America (1.6 billion, up 3.2% over 2013)
    4. Latin America-Caribbean (531 million, up 6.4% over 2013)
    5. Middle East (308 million, up 10.8% over 2013)
    6. Africa (180 million, up 2.7% over 2013)

  • With over 1.4 billion passengers, BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), which represent 21% of global passenger traffic, achieved strong growth of 9% in passenger traffic. MINT countries (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) also achieved robust traffic growth, with a 7.2% increase for passenger traffic in 2014.

  • Although Dubai (DXB) is the sixth-busiest airport in the world in overall passenger traffic, it became the world’s busiest in terms of international passenger traffic, ahead of London-Heathrow (LHR), in 2014.

  • Istanbul (+10.5%) remains one of the fastest-growing airports among the world’s top 30 airports for passenger traffic, moving from 18th to 13th rank.

  • The world’s top 30 airport cities handle more than one-third of global passenger traffic. London remains the world’s largest airport system with almost 147 million passengers handled at six airports in and around the metropolitan area. New York maintains the second position with 116 million passengers at three airports. Tokyo is the third city market with 109 million passengers.

  • The world’s busiest international airports (international passenger traffic)

    1. Dubai, United Arab Emirates – DXB (69.9 million, up 6.2% over 2013)
    2. London, United Kingdom – LHR (68.1 million, up 1.1% over 2013)
    3. Hong Kong, China – HKG (62.9 million, up 6.1% over 2013)

  • The world’s busiest domestic airports (domestic passenger traffic):

    1. Atlanta GA, USA – ATL (85.4 million, up 1.5% over 2013)
    2. Beijing, China – PEK (68.9 million, up 5.4% over 2013)
    3. Tokyo, Japan – HND (62.2 million, up 2.1% over 2013)

Air cargo traffic

  • Worldwide airport cargo increased by 4.7% in 2014 to 102 million metric tonnes, with positive levels of growth across all six regions.

  • Hong Kong (HKG) and Memphis (MEM) take the first and second places respectively for the busiest air cargo airports with 4.4 million and 4.3 million metric tonnes in 2014.

  • Airports in the Asia-Pacific region handled the largest amount of air cargo during 2014:

    1. Asia-Pacific (40.5 million metric tonnes, up 6.3% over 2013)
    2. North America (28.9 million metric tonnes, up 3% over 2013)
    3. Europe (18.4 million metric tonnes, up 3.2% over 2013)
    4. Middle East (7.4 million metric tonnes, up 9.2% over 2013)
    5. Latin America-Caribbean (5.0 million metric tonnes, up 0.6% over 2013)
    6. Africa (1.9 million metric tonnes, up 5.1% over 2013)
  • The world’s air cargo market is highly concentrated, with the top 30 air cargo hubs handling 53% of global air cargo volumes. Hong Kong and Memphis remain the busiest airports in terms of air cargo traffic (4.4 and 4.3 million metric tonnes of cargo respectively). The two Shanghai airports—PVG and SHA—handle 3.6 million tonnes combined, taking the third position in the air cargo hubs ranking.

  • The world’s busiest international airports (international freight traffic):

    1. Hong Kong, China – HKG (4.4 million metric tonnes, up 6% over 2013)
    2. Incheon, Republic of Korea – ICN (2.5 million metric tonnes, up 3.3% over 2013)
    3. Dubai, United Arab Emirates – DXB (2.4 million metric tonnes, down 3.1% over 2013)
  • The world’s busiest domestic airports (domestic freight traffic):

    1. Memphis TN, USA – MEM (4.0 million metric tonnes, up 3.4% over 2013)
    2. Louisville KY, USA – SDF (1.8 million metric tonnes, up 4.3% over 2013)
    3. Beijing, China – PEK (1.0 million metric tonnes, down 0.1% over 2013)

Aircraft movements

  • Worldwide aircraft movements increased by 1.3% in 2014 to 84.6 million, with mixed levels of growth across the regions.

  • Chicago (ORD) regained its position and became the busiest airport in terms of aircraft movements, followed by Atlanta (ATL) and Los Angeles (LAX)

  • Airports in the North American region recorded the highest number of movements during 2014:

    1. North America (29.6 million, down 1.0% over 2013)
    2. Europe (21.2 million, up 1.4% over 2013)
    3. Asia-Pacific (19.7 million, up 5.0% over 2013)
    4. Latin America-Caribbean (8.7 million, up 0.8% over 2013)
    5. Africa (2.9 million, up 0.5% over 2013)
    6. Middle East (2.6 million, up 4.8% over 2013)

2015 outlook

Preliminary airport traffic results for the first half of 2015 show encouraging signs of steady growth in the global passenger and cargo markets. The overall passenger growth rate in the first six months of 2014 was in the order of 5%, which is slightly above the equivalent year-over-year figure from 2014. Although the rate of growth in air cargo markets has slowed compared to 2014, air cargo is estimated to have grown by over 3% for the first half of 2014 as compared to the previous year.

¹Please note that data is based on information as of August 2015. The actual World Airport Traffic Report may contain updated and/or revised figures upon publication in September 2015.

Summary tables

Notes to editors

  1. Airports Council International (ACI), the only worldwide association of airports, has 590 member airport authorities, which operate 1,850 airports in 173 countries. ACI’s mission is to promote professional excellence in airport management and operations, and this mandate is carried out through the organization’s multiple training opportunities, as well as the customer service benchmarking programme, a wide range of conferences, industry statistical products and best practice publications.

  2. The World Airport Traffic Report 2014 (WATR 2014) is the most comprehensive source of airport traffic data on the market. Based on input from 2,215 commercial airports from over 160 countries, data is presented in five key global traffic categories: total passenger, total cargo, aircraft movements, international passenger and international freight. Rankings by order of busiest airports in each category are provided. The report also groups results region by region, country by country, as well as airport by airport.

  3. ACI produces a full range of publications covering airport policies/standards, monthly and yearly traffic reports, airport economics and global traffic forecasting. The WATR 2014, as well as a suite of other ACI publications, can be purchased on the ACI website at

  4. ACI is able to provide customized reports based on World Airport Traffic Report data for an additional charge. For more information, please contact

Media contact

Ryan White
Manager, Communications
ACI World
Telephone: +1 514 373 1226