Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport jumped three spots to become the 13th busiest airport in terms of passenger footfall in the year 2021. According to Airports Council International, IGIA saw 3.7 crore passengers— 30.3% more than 2. 8 crore in 2020 when it was the 16th busiest. Of the 12 airports that handled more passengers than the Delhi airport last year, 10 were in the US and two in China.
In 2019, IGIA had touched its highest ever annual figure of 6.9 crore passengers. The busiest airports in 2021 were Atlanta at 7.6 crore passengers, Dallas Fort Worth 6.2 crore passengers and Denver 5.9 crore passengers. Guangzhou in China was the busiest airport in terms of passenger footfall in 2020 and it fell to the eighth spot last year due to continuing travel restrictions in China.
In terms of aircraft movement, Delhi moved up seven spots to the 18th place in 2021 with 3.3 lakh planes flying in and out — 32% more than 2.5 lakh in 2020. The busiest airports in this category were Atlanta (7.1 lakh aircraft movements), Chicago (6.8 lakh) and Dallas Forth Worth (6.5 lakh).
ACI is the trade association of the world’s airports with 717 members, operating 1,950 airports in 185 countries. The latest data is for traffic at over 2,600 airports in more than 180 countries and territories.
With four runways, three mega terminals, and India’s first elevated taxiway (to be operational by next year), Delhi International Airport Ltd is preparing to handle traffic that the world’s busiest hubs do and consolidate its position as India’s biggest airport.
ACI said in a statement: “In 2021, the world’s airports saw 4.6 billion passengers, representing an increase of 28.3% from 2020 or a drop of 49.5% from 2019. The top 20 airports, representing 19% of global traffic (86.3 crore passengers), experienced a gain of 42.9% from 2020 or a drop of 31.9% vis-à-vis their 2019 results (1.27 billion passengers in 2019). ”
ACI World director general Luis Felipe de Oliveira said: “2021 represents the beginning of the aviation industry’s recovery. While some of the perennial busiest airport leaders have re-joined upper ranks, other regions struggle to recover leading to new entrants in the top 20. ”
No Indian airport figured in ACI’s list of 20 busiest airports in terms of cargo handling last year. Hong Kong was at the top.