Airports Council Releases 2021 North America Airport Traffic Rankings

Latest Report Shows North American Airport Industry Recovery Underway from COVID-19 Pandemic

WASHINGTON – Airports Council International – North America (ACI-NA), the trade association representing commercial service airports in the United States and Canada, today released its 2021 North American Airport Traffic Summary containing passenger, cargo, and aircraft operations data from 268 North American airports.

“After the devastating losses experienced by our industry in 2020, we are so pleased to see a strong rebound in 2021,” said ACI-NA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke.  “While we aren’t out of the woods just yet as our numbers have not yet rebounded beyond pre-pandemic levels, our industry’s brightest days are ahead of us.  Airports remain fully committed to working with their airline and government partners to restore and grow domestic and international air service to reconnect local communities to the world.”

Key Findings

  • In 2021, North American airports experienced an increase of 32 percent in international passenger traffic from 2020. Similarly, domestic passenger traffic showed more robust recovery with a growth rate of 78 percent. Eight U.S. airports made it to the top 10 world’s busiest airports in terms of total passenger traffic.
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport remained the busiest airport in North America and the world in 2021 with 75.7 million passengers, an increase of 76.4 percent from 2020.
  • Toronto Pearson International Airport is once again Canada’s most traveled airport with 12.7 million passengers, a decrease of 5.2 percent from 2020.
  • Memphis International Airport was North America’s busiest cargo airport in 2021, handling 4.5 million metric tons, a decrease of 2.9 percent from 2020.
  • All top 10 airports globally for aircraft movements were in the United States.

Passenger Traffic

Following the devastating losses experienced by the industry in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, airport passenger traffic demonstrated modest recovery in 2021.  Overall passenger traffic increased by 73 percent in 2021 over 2020 levels. While domestic passenger traffic showed signs of strong recovery with 78 percent growth in 2021, international passenger traffic only increased 32 percent over 2020 levels.

Cargo Volume

After the major boost in air cargo shipping experienced in 2020, air cargo volume continued to climb in 2021.  Overall air cargo traffic increased by 12.8 percent, as a result of a significant increase in international freight of 22.3 percent while domestic freight increased by 7.8 percent.

Aircraft Movements

Aircraft movements continued to increase in 2021 after the sharp decline in 2020. Total aircraft movements increased by 24.5 percent in 2021 as compared to 2020. This increase was driven by a robust recovery of 32.2 percent in passenger and combination aircraft movements. All-cargo aircraft movements also recorded an increase of 11.1 percent from 2020 in 2021.



About ACI-NA

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA) represents local, regional, and state governing bodies that own and operate commercial airports in the United States and Canada. ACI-NA member airports enplane more than 95 percent of the domestic and virtually all the international airline passenger and cargo traffic in North America. Approximately 380 aviation-related businesses are also members of ACI-NA, providing goods and services to airports. Collectively, U.S. airports support more than 11.5 million jobs and account for $1.4 trillion in economic activity – or more than seven percent of the total U.S. GDP. Canadian airports support 405,000 jobs and contribute C$35 billion to Canada’s GDP. Learn more at