Revealed: The world’s busiest airports this Christmas

Revealed: The world’s busiest airports this Christmas – and it’s Beijing that will handle the most passengers followed by Dubai and Atlanta (with Heathrow at No.11)

  • There will be 1.69million passengers passing through Beijing International between December 21 and 25
  • Chicago O’Hare will handle the most departing and arriving aircraft and the USA will be the busiest country 
  • Amazing time-lapse videos have been created that visualise flights around the world at Christmas 

You might need plenty of festive cheer if you’re travelling through Beijing in the run up to Christmas – that’s because the Chinese city’s international airport is set to be the busiest in the world during this time.

According to a new study there will be a staggering 1.69million departing and arriving passengers passing through between December 21 and December 25 – out of a worldwide total of 69,330,024.

The research has also revealed the second and third busiest airports in the world based on passenger numbers will be Dubai International and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport with London Heathrow coming 11th in the ranking.

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Beijing Capital International Airport, pictured, which is set to process the most passengers between December 21 and 25 

THE TOP TEN BUSIEST AIRPORTS IN THE WORLD THIS CHRISTMAS BY PASSENGER NUMBERS 

Beijing Capital International – 1,688,391 passengers

Dubai International – 1,581,362

Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson – 1,485,065

Tokyo Haneda – 1,445,600

Los Angeles International – 1,403,650

Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta – 1,297,949 

Hong Kong International – 1,261,443

Chicago O’Hare – 1,222,973

Shanghai Pudong – 1,215,000

Singapore Changi – 1,191,979

London Heathrow – 1,188,741

Source: OAG using arrivals and departures booking data for December 21 to 25

A table compiled using OAG data showing the airports that will handle the most departing passengers between December 21 and 25

A table compiled using OAG data showing the airports that will handle the most arriving passengers between December 21 and 25

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    The ranking is based on the number of seats booked on departing and arriving aircraft and the study – commissioned by Buyagift using data from OAG, a flight intelligence service – shows 1,581,362 passengers will travel through Dubai International and 1,485,065 through Atlanta.

    The fourth busiest airport at Christmas is set to be Tokyo Haneda International with 1,445,600 departing and arriving passengers followed by Los Angeles International with 1,403,650.


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    The rest of the top ten busiest airports ranking by passenger numbers is made of up Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta (1,297,949 passengers), Hong Kong International (1,261,443), Chicago O’Hare (1,222,973), Shanghai Pudong (1,215,000) and Singapore Changi (1,191,979). 

    Eleventh-placed Heathrow will see 1,188,741 departing and arriving passengers in the run-up to Christmas Day.   

    Figures show 1,581,362 passengers will travel through Dubai International, pictured, between December 21 and 25

    The third busiest airport in the run up to Christmas will be Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, pictured. It will process 1,485,065 passengers in the run-up to Christmas day

    The fourth busiest airport is set to be Tokyo Haneda, pictured, with 1,445,600 departing and arriving passengers 

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      The top five busiest airports in the world this Christmas in terms of the number of aircraft taking off and landing are all in the US, with figures showing 5,404 departures and 5,460 arrivals at Chicago O’Hare International between December 21 and 25.

      In second place is Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta, which will see 5,210 departures and 5,253 arrivals. LAX is third with 4,250 departures and 4,269 arrivals.

      In fourth place is Dallas Fort Worth (4,182 departures/4,239 arrivals) and in fifth place is Denver International (3,752 departures/3,819 arrivals).

      A table showing the top 11 busiest airports in the world this Christmas based on departing and arriving aircraft. Eight of those airports are in the US

      New figures from flight intelligence service OAG have shown that Chicago O’Hare airport, pictured, is set to be the busiest in terms of departing and arriving aircraft 

      There will be 4,250 departures leaving Los Angeles International, pictured, and 4,269 arrivals, according to the figures from OAG 

      The fourth busiest airport in the run up to Christmas by aircraft numbers will be Dallas Fort Worth, pictured, which will have 4,182 departures and 4,239 arrivals 

      The top-ranking non-US airport for flight numbers is Beijing Capital International, which comes in at sixth place with 3,740 departures and 3,623 arrivals.

      Its placing on this ranking indicates that it generally operates bigger planes. 

      Meanwhile in the UK, Heathrow will have 2,762 departures and 2,795 arrivals in the run-up to Christmas.

      OAG also has data for other UK airports and it’s London Gatwick that will be the second busiest airport with 1,471 flights leaving (285,982 seats) and 1,479 flights arriving (287,540 seats.)

      The third busiest is Manchester, the only airport outside of London in the top five, which will see 994 departures (175,297 seats) and 991 departures (156,673 seats).

      London’s Heathrow Airport, pictured, will be the busiest in the UK in the run-up to Christmas by aircraft numbers and passenger numbers. It will handle 2,762 departures (591,682 seats) and 2,795 arrivals (597,113 seats)

      A table showing the top 10 busiest airports this Christmas based on the number of departing and arriving flights 

      A table shows the top 10 busiest UK airports based on departing and arriving passenger numbers, using booking data

      In fourth place is London Stansted (856 departures/156,713 seats and 856 arrivals/156,673 seats) and in fifth is London Luton (594 departures/111,226 seats and 594 arrivals/111,226 seats).

      In terms of the busiest cities this Christmas for air travel, New York is No1 in the world, with 7,667 departures and 7,596 arrivals.

      In second place is Chicago, which will see 6,686 departures over the five-day period and 6,678 arrivals.

      Third place is London with 6,071 departures in the lead-up to Christmas as well as 6,007 arrivals.

      Atlanta is in fourth place (5,264 departures/5,254 arrivals) and Dallas is in fifth (5,169 departures/5,157 arrivals).

      Also making the top ten are Shanghai (sixth place, 4,600 departures/4,402 arrivals), Moscow (seventh, 4,489 departures/4,379 arrivals), Paris (eighth, 4,348 departures/4,287 arrivals) and Bangkok (ninth, 4,274 departures/4,087 arrivals).

      The busiest city for departing and arriving flights at Christmas will be New York, followed by Chicago and then London 

      Tied in 10th place are Los Angeles (4,239 departures/4,269 arrivals) and Tokyo (4,239 departures/4,114 arrivals).

      When it comes to the busiest countries for air travel this Christmas, it is no surprise that the US will be the busiest with 118,071 departures and 118,844 arrivals.

      In second place is China (53,704 departures/52,037 arrivals) followed by India (16,765 departures/16,339 arrivals) in third place.

      Indonesia (14,487 departures/14,158 arrivals) is in fourth place, followed by Canada (14, 257 departures/14,202 arrivals) and Japan (14,106 departures/13,926 arrivals).

      The rest of the top ten are Brazil (seventh, 12,018 departures/12,040 arrivals), UK (eighth, 10,994 departures/10,888 arrivals), Germany (ninth, 10,149 departures/10,133 arrivals) and Spain (tenth, 10,129 departures/10,030 arrivals).

      Unsurprisingly, the country with the most flights in the run-up to Christmas is the USA, followed by China and India. The United Kingdom is in eighth place 

      Carolina Mather at OAG commented: ‘Christmas is globally one of the peak periods for scheduled airlines, and OAG’s dynamic schedules database and flight status systems highlight the sheer size and scale of passengers moving at this busy time of year.

      ‘With schedules changing daily keeping a track on flights and expected arrival times makes Christmas seem that little bit nearer.

      While Dan Mountain, CEO at Buyagift, which has created incredible time-lapse videos that visualise Christmas air traffic around the world (above), added: ‘We understand giving loved ones something special at Christmas is an essential part of the festive season but spending time with our nearest and dearest is priceless.

      ‘We wanted to visualise just how important this is around the world, showing just what the sky will look like five days head of Christmas as everyone heads home to be with their loved ones for the most magical time of the year.’

      • The flight data from OAG Aviation is correct as of October 10, 2018. Flight data may be subject to change after this date. Data was available for 450 airports across the world and includes all scheduled flights. The data is subject to change due to extra bookings. 

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