World in motion – ACI News

We report on the top 10 busiest airports in the world in 2022, the infrastructure development challenge in North America, and Airport Carbon Accreditation success in Africa and Europe.

ACI World news: The top 10 busiest airports on the planet in 2022

ACI World has revealed the top 10 busiest airports on the planet for passenger traffic, cargo and aircraft movements in 2022.

In terms of passenger traffic, the top 10 welcomed back some of the world’s largest hubs following the global re-opening of borders to international travel.

The upturn in passenger numbers ensures that the table for the top 10 busiest airports on the planet now has a more familiar look to it after three COVID impacted years.

Passenger traffic

The top four airports actually remained the same as in 2021, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL) welcoming 93.7 million passengers (+23.8%) to retain top spot in 2022 followed by Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) with 73.4 million (+17.5%), Denver (DEN) in third with 69.3 million (+17.8%), and Chicago O’Hare (ORD) in fourth with 68.3 million (+26.5%).

However, then, with the exception of Los Angeles (LAX) in sixth place with 65.9 million (+37.3%), the remainder of the top 10 was made up of airports either regaining their previously held status among the world’s busiest gateways – Dubai (DXB), London Heathrow (LHR) and Paris CDG (CDG) – or continuing their rapid upward trajectory for passenger growth such as Istanbul (IST) and Delhi (DEL).

From the top 10 airports globally, five are in the United States. They all have significant domestic passenger shares (between 75% and 95% domestic traffic).

The biggest jump in the top 10 was recorded by London Heathrow, which rose from 54th position in the rankings in 2021 to eighth following the re-opening of borders after two years of closures.

ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira, said: “The new top 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic reflects the resilience of the airport and aviation industry, and the eagerness of passengers to travel by air.

“While US airport hubs were able to recover quicker due to their strong domestic market, we are now witnessing global hubs joining the upper ranks – including Dubai, Istanbul, and London Heathrow.

“While we continue to march forward cautiously amidst multiple headwinds that could impact the speed and magnitude of global air traffic recovery, the latest rankings represent an important milestone in reaching pre-pandemic levels.

“The ongoing recovery of air travel demand would not be possible without the continuous work of airports to provide a safe, secure, efficient, and sustainable air transport ecosystem for the passengers that we depend on and the communities we serve.”

Preliminary figures indicate that with the resumption of international travel, global passenger traffic soared by 53.5% to close to seven billion passengers in 2022 – 73.8% of the total handled in 2019.

Cargo traffic

Air cargo volumes are estimated to have decreased by 6.7% year-over-year (-1.7% versus 2019), to close to 117 million metric tonnes in 2022.

Air cargo volumes in the top 10 airports for air cargo traffic – representing around 27% (30.8 million tonnes) of the global volumes in 2022, lost 9.9% in 2022 year-over-year (but kept a gain of 4.1% versus 2019 results).

The decline can be attributed to the ongoing geopolitical tensions and disruptions to global trade and supply chains.

Hong Kong (HKG) with 4.2 million tonnes (-16.4%) remained in the top ranked airport followed by Memphis (MEM) with 4.0 million (-9.8%) and Anchorage (ANC) with 3.5 million (-4.3%). Shanghai Pudong (PVG) slipped from third to fourth after handling 3.1 million tonnes of cargo (-21.7%) in 2022. Louisville (SDF) in fifth place handled just over 3.0 million tonnes of cargo (+0.5%).

Aircraft movements

The world’s airports handled close to 89 million aircraft movements in 2022, 20.4% more than in 2021. This represents a recovery of 82.5% from pre-pandemic levels (2019).

The top 10 airports for aircraft movements, representing close to 7% of global traffic (5.7 million movements), witnessed a gain of 11.4% from their 2021 results, recovering to 91.5% vis-à-vis their 2019 results (6.2 million in 2019).

ATL once again topped the rankings with 724,145 aircraft movements (+2.3% from 2021), although the total is less than it handled in 2019 when it finished second to Chicago O’Hare.

ACI-NA news: US airport infrastructure needs rising

ACI-NA’s newly released US airport infrastructure needs report, Growing Needs Heighten Urgency to Modernize America’s Airports, estimates that America’s airports need $151 billion over the next five years to fund necessary infrastructure projects, up more than 30% from $115 billion just two years ago.

“Investment in US airport infrastructure continues to lag behind the industry’s needs, and that gap continues to grow,” says ACI-NA president and CEO, Kevin Burke. “Continued infrastructure investment and reduced regulatory burdens for America’s airports will support good-paying jobs, stimulate the economy, advance important environmental goals, and improve the passenger experience for millions of travellers.

“It’s time for Congress to make meaningful reforms in how it funds America’s critical airport infrastructure.”

ACI-NA notes that airports are still recovering financially from the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that decimated the entire global aviation system, stating that “the continued financial impacts of the pandemic have hamstrung airport investment in additional modernisation projects to make the system more resilient before the next major disruption.

The total cost of these critical projects dwarfs the funding available through annual Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants, Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) user fee collections, grant funding available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and net income generated by airports, says ACI-NA.

It notes: “Airports have a footprint in every community in America and are critical to the country’s economic success, supporting 11.5 million jobs and producing an annual economic output of $1.7 trillion.

“They depend on congressional authority and funding to modernise aging facilities, but regulatory burdens that have hamstrung airports for decades continue to constrain the industry’s ability to invest in infrastructure.

“Increasing AIP funding, expanding AIP eligibility, modernising the outdated PFC, and reducing regulatory burdens would allow airports to use funds in a way that benefits them the best, which in turn benefits the communities they serve.” The full report can be found here.

ACI EUROPE & ACI Africa news: Airport Carbon Accreditation success

ACI EUROPE believes that the efforts of the continent’s airports to reduce their carbon emissions meant that they emerged as “the standout star” of ACI’s Airport Carbon Accreditation annual report for 2021-2022.

ACI EUROPE director general, Olivier Jankovec, said: “European airports are leaders in carbon management globally, leaving no stone unturned in the effort to rid their infrastructure and operations of carbon, in line with the global climate goals and the ambitious climate agenda spearheaded by the EU.”

In the period covered by the newly published report, European airports outperformed the global growth factor with a 32% increase in participation numbers, reaching 204 accredited airports at the end of the programme year (May 2021-May 2022).

ACI Africa also hails the carbon management progress of African airports, noting that despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the continent saw “a remarkable growth rate of 38% in airport participation”, with 22 accredited airports across 13 countries.

The efforts of African airports have contributed significantly to global carbon performance, particularly in reducing Scope 1 and 2 CO2 emissions. During the reporting period (May 2021-May 2022), the accredited airports in the region collectively reduced their CO2 emissions by 15,439 tonnes, equivalent to the CO2 emitted during the production of nearly 2.2 million cotton t-shirts.

ACI Africa secretary general, Ali Tounsi, said: “The report is testimony of the airports’ unwavering dedication to ridding their operations and infrastructure of carbon. Their efforts are commendable and have set an example for others in the industry to follow.”

ACI Africa believes that the report confirms that African airports are not only committed to climate action but are also willing to go the extra mile to achieve their goals.

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