The World’s Busiest Airports: Kiplinger Economic Forecasts

Find out how U.S. airports are faring and the outlook post-COVID-19

People waiting in line at airport security
(Image credit: Getty)

The aviation industry is a cornerstone of the economy not just because of its size but because its performance has an impact across the supply chain and can impact the economy via the tourism sector. 

To help you understand this sector, our highly experienced Kiplinger Letter team will update you on major developments (Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe). Here’s the latest forecast…

Five of the world’s top 10 busiest airports last year were still in the U.S., a drop from 2021 when domestic airports claimed eight of the top 10 spots.

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Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport once again reigned supreme, for the second straight year, with passenger volume of about 93.7 million people.

The rest in descending order were: Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, Chicago’s O’Hare, Dubai, Los Angeles, Istanbul, London Heathrow, New Delhi and Paris Charles de Gaulle.

Post-COVID-19 travel rebound

U.S. airports dominated the rankings for the past two years as domestic travel rebounded faster than in other regions. 

Worldwide travel significantly rose last year. Expect most of the world’s busiest airports to be back to normal this year, either matching or exceeding pre-pandemic levels. 

Only two top 10 airports, Denver and Istanbul, had more passengers in 2022 than in 2019. But 2023 demand is strong...

Airplane supply may be limited

Meanwhile, quality problems have forced Boeing (BA) to halt deliveries of some jets. The issue will leave airlines with roughly 9,000 fewer seats than planned during a summer travel season when U.S. passenger volumes may set a record.

The 9,000-seat figure suggests dozens of planes will be affected. In the U.S., United (UAL) and Southwest Airlines (LUV) are the two biggest buyers of Boeing’s 737 Max, though certain variants of the narrow-body jet, such as the 9, won’t be affected.

Less clear is whether Boeing will be able to deliver 400 737 MAX jets in 2023, which is its goal. The planemaker has delivered 113 through this year’s first quarter.

This forecast first appeared in The Kiplinger Letter. Since 1925, the Letter has helped millions of business executives and investors profit by providing reliable forecasts on business and the economy, as well as what to expect from Washington. Get a free issue of The Kiplinger Letter or subscribe.  

Sean Lengell
Associate Editor, The Kiplinger Letter

Sean Lengell covers Congress and government policy for The Kiplinger Letter. Before joining Kiplinger in January 2017 he served as a congressional reporter for eight years with the Washington Examiner and the Washington Times. He previously covered local news for the Tampa (Fla.) Tribune. A native of northern Illinois who spent much of his youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., he holds a bachelor's degree in English from Marquette University.