The Airports Council International, which just released its ACI World Airport Traffic Report, sees busy airports as a sign of economic vitality and consumer vigor. Most travelers, on the other hand, who must navigate the mega-facilities, with their choked security checkpoints and marathon runs between connecting flights, may feel otherwise.
From the bigger-is-better perspective, 2015 was a good year for the 2,300 airports in 160 countries covered by the latest ACI report.
Persistence and resilience are two themes that best describe air transport demand in 2015. The large increase in passenger traffic of 6.4% represents the strongest growth rate since 2010 (6.6%), the year in which it rebounded from the Great Recession.
The strongest growth was registered by Middle East airports, up 9.6 percent over 2014, and Asia-Pacific airports, up 8.6 percent. North America airports registered a 5.3 percent traffic increase, while airport traffic in Africa barely budged, up just 0.6 percent.Of the world’s 10 busiest airport, four were in the U.S. and three in Asia:
There’s no inherent reason why bigger airports should be either better or worse for travelers. Larger spaces, bigger crowds, more flights…those are challenges to be sure. But in theory, smart design can offset the negatives, if not turn them into positives.
In practice, however, the largest U.S. airports are among the least popular among flyers, and an increase in passengers is only likely to make matters worse.