Beijing Capital International Airport has replaced London Heathrow Airport as the second busiest in the world according to the Airports Council International.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – which saw traffic increase 1.5 per cent in 2010 – remains the busiest.
ACI preliminary traffic results, based on reports from over 900 airports worldwide, also indicate that global passenger traffic grew at a better than expected rate of 6.3 per cent last year.
Meanwhile cargo also rose strongly, up by 15.2 per cent, as compared to 2009.
ACI world director general Angela Gittens comments: “2010 underscored the resilience of the air transport business and resulted in over five billion annual passengers for the first time ever.
“2010 also pronounced the shift and divergence in growth across the regions. While North America and Europe have struggled to reach pre-crisis passenger volumes, Asia-Pacific, Latin America-Caribbean and Middle East sustained a strong momentum and gained market share through double digit growth.”
Monthly passenger growth worldwide in 2010 was consistently high between five per cent and ten percent with the exception of a significant setback in April due to the volcanic ash cloud that hit Europe particularly hard.
Another anomaly impacting traffic mainly in Europe was the unusually harsh winter weather in December. Despite these setbacks Europe still registered growth of 4.3 percent in 2010 thanks to strong international summer and fall traffic.
A slow economic recovery and restraint of air carriers in adding domestic capacity has led to modest growth in North America of 2.4 per cent keeping passenger numbers below pre-crisis levels in that region.
Asia-Pacific has benefited from a 14.2 per cent rise of international passengers resulting in a total increase of 11.5 per cent.
Latin America-Caribbean enjoyed strong domestic traffic growth particularly in Brazil and other Latin American countries as national economies and low cost carriers expand quickly.