A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

What's the busiest airport in the world?

June 7, 1999

Dear Straight Dope:

What's the busiest airport in the world?

I work with a bunch of propellerheads--this one was a piece of cake.  Everything you'd ever want to know about this and then some can be found on www.airports.org. (Sorry, for some reason this URL doesn't work for everybody.)  The following is for 1998:

Busiest airport by passengers (counting arriving and departing, plus direct transit passengers counted once):

  1. Atlanta (ATL) 73.4 million
  2. Chicago O'Hare (ORD) 72.4 million
  3. Los Angeles (LAX) 61.2 million
  4. London Heathrow (LHR) 60.6 million
  5. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) 60.5 million

Busiest airport by cargo (loaded plus unloaded plus mail, in million metric tonnes):

  1. Memphis (MEM) 2.4
  2. Los Angeles (LAX) 1.8
  3. Miami (MIA) 1.8
  4. Hong Kong (HKG) 1.7
  5. Tokyo 1.6

Busiest airport by aircraft movement (landings plus take-offs) in thousands

  1. Chicago O'Hare (ORD) 897
  2. Atlanta (ATL) 846
  3. Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) 836
  4. Los Angeles (LAX) 773
  5. Detroit (DTW) 542

The first non-US location in this list is London Heathrow in 16th place.   Heathrow, BTW, is pronounced 'Eeeff-roh.  Just so you know.

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