An insight into the busiest airport in the world: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport

An airport is not just the aerial facility for airplanes to take off and land; It is home away from home for travellers. In addition, airports are characterized as commercial enterprises and as air gateways to important destinations. There are over 40,000 airports worldwide and the United States has most and some of the largest airports in the world. Airports get the limelight for a variety of reasons: sheer size, passenger numbers, state-of-the-art facilities, etc. Today, let’s take a look at the world’s busiest airport: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport.

Brief background on Atlanta Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport or simply Atlanta Airport is the main airport located 7 miles south of downtown Atlanta and serving the greater Atlanta area. In addition to major corporate operations for Delta Air Lines, it also serves as a focal point for low-cost carriers such as Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Spirit Airlines.

Atlanta Airport covers 4,700 acres and houses two international terminals and five parallel runways. This airport holds the title of the busiest airport not only in the US but in the whole world. From 1998 to the present (excluding 2020), Atlanta Airport has handled the highest passenger volume in the world. This US-based airport handled 75,537,213 passengers in 2021, surpassing Dallas Fort International Airport’s passenger volume by over 13 million. How is it possible that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport takes the top spot as the busiest airport in the world every year?

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Why does Atlanta Airport have the busiest passenger volume?

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport is the busiest airport primarily for the following reasons: its strategic geographic location, lack of local competition, and its role as home to one of the largest airlines, Delta Air Lines.

Atlanta Airport has a favorable geographic location that makes it ideal as a connecting hub for the larger United States. Atlanta Airport’s geographic fortune draws a lot of pass-through hub traffic, holding it for 80% of the US population within a two-hour flight. The airport offers seamless connections to over 150 destinations around the country and brings passengers to Atlanta as a boarding point for other travel to multiple locations in the United States. The airport’s strategic eastern location in the country contributes to the high volume of international traffic.



  • lack of local competition
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Atlanta, the 38th largest US city, has only one major airport serving the region, and surprisingly, this one suffices. Unlike other major metropolitan areas such as New York, Texas, Chicago, etc., which host multiple airports, Atlanta does not present local competition to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport, meaning that the entire city dwellers use Atlanta Airport as there are none other viable flight facilities are in the area.

Atlanta Airport’s two international terminals have a total of 195 gates, the largest number of gates for any airport in the world. There are 7 halls: T, A, B, C, D, E and F with 17, 29, 32, 4, 40, 28 and 12 gates respectively.

The US aviation market is largely dominated by Delta Air Lines, an established airline that operates over 5400 daily flights to over 325 destinations in 52 countries on six continents. Atlanta Airport is home to Delta’s corporate and engineering operations. It houses Delta Hub, the world’s largest airline hub, which oversees over 1,000 flights per day to an extensive network of 225 domestic and international destinations.

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Atlanta is the corporate headquarters, primary hub, and primary maintenance base of Delta Airlines. Delta concentrates its flow of traffic for the US Southeast from its main hub at Atlanta Airport. In addition, Hartsfield-Jackson also serves as Delta’s main gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Different reasons

Another critical component to Atlanta’s success as the world’s busiest airport is its ability to expand over time. With the increase in flight operations, it has enough space to grow on the ground and in the air. At ground level, it’s 7 miles south of downtown Atlanta, which leaves plenty of room for growth, and in terms of airspace, as the only major airport serving the city, it has no restrictions on the number of takeoffs and landings.

Being the busiest airport doesn’t necessarily mean chaotic and crowded conditions in the terminals. In fact, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport holds the title for the world’s most efficient airport for the 18th consecutive year. The airport employs more than 60,000 people to keep flight schedules on time and invests heavily in passenger facilities to ensure a seamless experience.

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