Beijing airport set to become world's busiest

Updated: 2013-10-25 09:39

By Michael Barris in New York (China Daily USA)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

China is taking another title away from the United States.

By next year, Beijing Capital International Airport will rank as the world's busiest passenger airport, ending the 13-year reign of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to a report from the Global Business Travel Association.

"In 2012, Atlanta serviced 92 million passengers and Beijing 82 million. The relative growth in the two markets suggests that Beijing International will surpass Atlanta by 2014,"Joe Bates, the association's vice president of research, told China Daily in an interview.

In a release Thursday, the Virginia-based travel association said China is "growing its business travel market faster than any other nation, and continues to close the gap on the US as the largest business travel economy in the world."

Beijing's displacing Atlanta as the world's busiest airport marks the latest changing of the guard in the global marketplace.

With total spending on Chinese-originated business travel expected to grow a weaker than expected 14.3 percent this year and 17.2 percent next year – more than double the US rate – China is expected to overtake the US as the world's dominant business-travel market by 2016.

It overtook the US as the world's largest automotive market in 2009 and is poised to replace the US as the world's largest economy by the end of this decade.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International has been the world's busiest airport in terms of passenger volume since 2000.

The primary hub of Delta Air Lines, last year it had a 3.4 percent increase in number of passengers over 2011, according to Airports Council International, the worldwide association of airports. Beijing Capital International Airport, Asia's busiest airport since 2009, came in second with a 4.1 percent increase, according to the traffic report.

Bates said Beijing's rise into the world's busiest airport tells "a story of growth".

"Both business and leisure travel – outbound and inbound – are outpacing the developed world,"the travel association researcher said. "It's a sign that China's business-travel market continues to move ahead but will be challenged by infrastructure constraints".

The travel association, which predicts business-travel trends by tracking spending and other metrics, cut its 2013 outlook for total China business travel, citing the "protracted slowdown"in China's key trading markets in North America and Europe". China's economy also is slowing amid the nation's embrace of a consumption-driven rather than export- and investment-driven economy.

Even so, the travel association expects the Chinese economy to remain "a robust engine for economic growth at home and abroad", even though its growth sources are experiencing "dramatic change". And "that means the outlook for business travel remains positive,"the association said.

Contact the writer at