Top 15 Countries with Departures by Air Transport – 1970/2020

Passengers carried by air worldwide have been increasing steadily since 1970. In some years, however, such as 2001 (due to the 11 September attack) or 2020 (due to the Pandemic), flights have fallen sharply. In this article, we will look at the top countries in the world in terms of the number of passengers transported by air from 1970 to 2019 and some figures for 2020 and 2021. Top 15 Countries with Departures by Air Transport – 1970/2020.

Top 15 Countries By Departures by Air Transport – 1970/2019

The first state in the world for the number of passengers departing by air flight is the United States. In fact, in the USA the number in 2019 was more than 10 million departures. This figure is in line with the last decade and has grown steadily year on year (tran in the period of 2001). In second place is China, with nearly 5 million passengers. (Air passengers carried include both domestic and international aircraft passengers of air carriers registered in the country. In third place in this ranking is Canada with 1,215,983 followed by India, Great Britain and Japan. These top 6 states all have a figure in excess of 1 million. Next, in the top 15 of 2019, we find some European countries such as Russia, Ireland, Germany, Spain. But also Latin American countries such as Brazil and Mexico or Asian countries such as Indonesia and Turkey. There are no countries from Africa, but there is one country from Oceania: Australia. The gap between the first nation, the United States, and the 15th, Mexico, is almost 9.5 million passengers.

In 1970, going back almost 50 years, the United States was always in first place. In fact in the USA the population was about half of what it is today: over 5 million. But the United States was definitely in first place as in second place was Great Britain with 441,800. In third place was Canada with 305,200. Among the top 15 positions there were also countries like Colombia and the Philippines with a value of 95,100. The gap between the first position and the fifteenth, occupied by Switzerland with 84,600 people, was significantly wider. In general, therefore, from 1970 to 2019 not only did passengers increase in all countries, but in addition to the 100% increase in the United States, there was a decidedly higher increase in other countries. Above all China which as we have seen came in second place. China, which entered the top 15 only in 1987 when it had about 170 thousand passengers.

Air travel worldwide

The number of passengers worldwide, according to the World Bank, was about 310 million. Over the years, with the advent of low-cost flights, the end of the Cold War and other historical elements, the number of flights by aircraft has increased more and more. In 2019, the figure stood at 4,397 billion passengers carried by air. This is a very high figure if we consider that in 1970 there were about 310 million passengers. The growth has been almost constant except during the period of the 9/11 attack. As we have seen, the United States is the world’s leading transport nation. When the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001, this caused a lack of confidence in air travel throughout the world, including in the United States. Since 2003, however, the figure has continued to rise sharply.

Much of this growth is also due to China. In fact, in 2003 there were about 1 million passengers. In just 16 years these have increased to almost 5 million in 2019. A phenomenon that, albeit with lesser figures, also took place in India. Again in 2003, in fact, India was in fourteenth position with around 285 thousand passengers. In 2019 India’s figure is 1,209,803. It is clear, therefore, that the advancement of these two countries has also decisively increased the total value. In all this, the United States has increased from or 8,800 thousand to the 10 million already mentioned above.

World airports by passenger traffic

Atlanta Airport had 110,531,300 passengers in 2019, an increase of +2.9% compared to 2018. Globally, Hartsfield Airport is followed by Beijing Capital International Airport. Atlanta and Beijing are the only two airports in the world that had a total of more than 100 million passengers in 2019. The Chinese airport also had a +1% increase in traffic. Following in third place is Los Agneles Airport and then all the others including Dubai INternation Aiport, Tokyo Airport etc. The top European airport is found in ninth position; Charles de Gaulle Airport had a passenger traffic in 2019 of 76,150,009.

The airport that had the highest growth as the number of passengers from 2018 to 2019 (always among the list of top 50 airports) is: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. This airport, in Indonesia, saw +17% growth in passenger traffic. In second place instead Sheremetyevo International Airport, with a growth of +8.9%. Finally, in third place was Dallas/Fort Worth Airport with growth of 8.6%.

Below I have made a treemap showing the distribution of Passengers among the top 50 airports

Airline flights in 2020 and the impact of the Coronavirus

Globally, what has been the impact of the Coronavirus on air travel? To answer this question, I analyzed data from the top 50 airports by passenger transport in 2020. As you can see the Atlanta airport, which in 2019 had done over 110 million passengers, in 2020 hosted “only” 42,918,685 with a percentage level drop of -60.2%. Atlanta was surpassed in this ranking byGuangzhou Baiyun International Airport that despite losing 40.5% of passengers, in 2020 became the first airport in the world.

If in 2019 the top positions were covered yes by the United States and China, but also by other countries, in 2015 the top 15 airports by number of passengers are only from 3 nations. United States, China and Japan. Among the top 15 nations China is present with 9 airports, the United States with 5 and Japan with 1. The airport in Thailand “Suvarnabhumi Airport” is the one that in percentage terms lost the most passengers. The decrease was almost 3/4 with a variation of -74.5%. This was followed by the German airport of Frankfurt with -73.4% and the airport in Queens. For those interested, it is possible to sort the table according to the parameter of interest. These also include the % change in total 2020 compared to 2019.

Source and links

The source of the data in this article is the World Bank. For the data on individual airports I have used the data on the Wikipedia page:

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