Since 1998, Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson in the United States has always been in first place of the busiest airports in the world. Last year, 88 million passengers passed through any one of its seven terminals spread out over more than 52 hectares (6.8 million sq. ft). But this could well change.
Absent from the "Top 10" in 2000, Beijing’s Chaoyang Airport, with its 75.4 million passengers, has just moved into second place in the world, well ahead of London’s Heathrow airport. Main reason: the strong growth of Chinese domestic air traffic: more than 15% on average each year over the last ten years (9.5% last year); this is much more than the 0.8% for the North American market. And all indications are that this trend is expected to last.
According to forecasts by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), in 2030 North America will account for no more than 33% of worldwide domestic traffic as against today’s 52%. Asia is expected to increase from 18 to 29%. Another unmistakable sign is that over the next twenty years the demand for the Asia-Pacific region in 100-seater-plus new aircraft is estimated at 11,000 aircraft. A massive leap forward.
Regarding airlines, there again, a change could be foreseen. Delta Airlines has always been out in front, but Emirates, surfing on a Middle East economic boom will probably oust them out of leadership position this year. As for China Southern, everything suggests that their entry into the "Top 5" is coming soon, it’s just a matter of time.