O’Hare topples Hartsfield-Jackson as busiest U.S. airport

by Samuel Abasi Posted on February 5th, 2019

Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport has toppled Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport as busiest airport in the United States in terms of total flights, according to federal data for 2018 released Monday.

The Atlanta airport had claimed the No. 1 title since 2015 when it passed Chicago’s main airport, the Federal Aviation Administration reported. Hartsfield-Jackson was No. 1 and O’Hare No. 2 from 2006-13.

O’Hare had 903,747 flights, which was a 4.2 percent increase from 2017, while Hartsfield-Jackson had 895,502 flights, an increase of 1.8 percent, according to FAA Air Traffic Activity System data. Los Angeles was in third with 707,833 arrivals and departures, followed by Dallas/Fort Worth with 667,213 and Denver with 603,403.

Chicago’s other airport, Midway, was 26th with 243,322 arrivals and departures, a 3.2 percent decline.

“Chicago is proud to be the home of the best connected airport in the U.S., and now the busiest airport for total flights, as well,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. “O’Hare has been building new runways and modernizing its airfield layout to increase flight capacity.”

In terms of the number of passengers flying at the airports, Hartsfield-Jackson has been far ahead of O’Hare.

The Atlanta airport handled a world-best 103.9 million passengers in 2017, according to Airports Council International, which has not yet released its ranking for 2018. Chicago O’Hare handled about 79.8 million passengers that year, putting it in sixth place for worldwide passenger counts.

The No. 2 spot for passenger counts was Beijing Capital International Airport with nearly 95.8 million passengers

After O’Hare’s facilities are modernized, there is a “very good chance” O’Hare could reclaim the title of world’s busiest airport in passenger volume, Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and president of San Francisco-based Atmosphere Research Group, told the Chicago Tribune.

The report was issued on a busy day at Hartsfield-Jackson, known as “Mass Exodus Monday,” the day after the Super Bowl in the city.

The Transportation Security Administration normally handles 70,000 to 80,000 passengers a day, but around 100,000 were expected Monday.

Passengers faced 2-hour long security lines in the morning.

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Samuel Abasi

Samuel Abasi

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