TIME Aviation

Atlanta Has the World’s Busiest Airport, but Beijing Is Catching Up

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Taking off at Atlanta airport. Hartsfield–Jackson is still the world's busiest but plenty of Asian contenders are on the rise David Goldman—Associated Press

Hartsfield–Jackson holds top place, but only just — buoyed by booming economies and swelling populations, Asian contenders from Dubai to Beijing are on the way up

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is still the busiest airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, but Asian contenders are catching up, according to a new list from Airports Council International (ACI).

Atlanta saw more than 94 million passengers pass through its terminals in 2013, a drop of 1.1% from 2012. Beijing came in second, with close to 84 million passengers — a 2.2% increase.

Dubai recorded the biggest growth, taking it from 10th to seventh place on the list with over 66 million passengers — a surge of more than 15%.

“Aviation’s nucleus appears to be moving eastward,” said Rafael Echevarne, ACI World’s economics director, in a statement.

“Other emerging markets such as Turkey, China and South East Asia that have a critical mass of traffic also remain major contributors to the upward surge in air transport demand. This trend will continue into 2014.”

Nine of the list’s top 20 busiest airports are in Asia, with Hong Kong remaining the world’s busiest airport for air cargo.

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