Despite Nigeria’s status as the largest economy in Africa and the presence of five international airports, none of them made it to the list of the world’s top 100 busiest airports in 2023, as compiled by Simple Flying.
Notably, Muritala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), a renowned aviation institution with an impressive monthly revenue generation of N10bn, failed to secure a spot on the list.
Cirium data reveals that Cairo is the only airport in Africa that managed to make it to the global list, ranking 99th. Previously, in July 2019, before the pandemic, it held the 144th position, showing a remarkable increase of 129.4 percent in the number of flights, which contributed to its rise in rank.
Cirium data is recognized as one of the world’s number one aviation analytics companies that is created to empower the industry with actionable intelligence for informed decision-making.
Lagos, being the primary economic and commercial center in Africa, heavily relies on MMIA for international travel, serving a large number of passengers. Its strategic location connects Africa to various regions of the world, making it a crucial transit hub for both domestic and international flights, including those traveling to Europe, the Americas, and other global destinations.
The city’s high air traffic is also influenced by its status as a home to numerous multinational corporations, a popular tourist destination, and a thriving Nigerian diaspora.
Despite these factors, Luxury and Travel Expert platform’s list of the top ten airports in the world for 2023 also did not feature MMIA, leaving the reasons for its non-recognition open to speculation.
North America has the highest number of top 100 airports with 34, followed closely by Asia with 32. Europe has 24, the Middle East has four, South America has three, Australasia has two, and Africa has one.
Atlanta is the most busy airport in North America and worldwide. In Asia, Guangzhou takes the lead. Istanbul Airport maintains a faster pace than London Heathrow in Europe. Dubai ranks at the top in the Middle East, Bogotá in South America, and Sydney in Australasia.
Among the top 100 airports, five countries possess three these airports each. Canada boasts airports in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal. India’s airports in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bengaluru also make the list. Spain joins with airports in Madrid, Barcelona, and Palma. Türkiye’s airports in Istanbul (Istanbul Airport and Istanbul Sabiha Gökçen) along with Antalya are included. Lastly, the UK adds London Heathrow, London Gatwick, and Manchester to the prestigious list.
Despite experiencing a decline of 85.1percent compared to July 2019, Atlanta continues to have more flights than any other airport worldwide. In the pre-pandemic period, O’Hare Airport held the top position in terms of flights, although it did not lead in terms of seats or ASKs. However, its slow recovery has caused it to drop to second place, where it is expected to stay for the foreseeable future.
Among all airports globally, only three have managed to surpass their pre-pandemic flight levels: Denver, Istanbul, and Guangzhou. Denver has climbed to fourth place from its previous ranking, Istanbul has significantly risen from 19th place, and Guangzhou, despite being severely affected by the coronavirus, has moved up from its previous 14th place position. As a result, Beijing Capital, Frankfurt, and Paris CDG have been displaced from this esteemed group.
According to Cirium, the average recovery rate for flights at the top 100 airports worldwide is 93.2 percent. Out of these airports, 37 have surpassed the number of flights they had in July 2019. Austin from the United States has shown the best performance with a growth rate of 135.8 percent and has climbed up from 143rd to 93rd position in global rankings. Following Austin, the airports with the next highest recovery rates are Cairo (129.4 percent), Cancun (124.4 percent), Antalya (118.8 percent), and São Paulo Congonhas (117.1 percent).
Numerous airports are still far from reaching their previous flight levels, let alone surpassing them. Hong Kong has been hit the hardest, with only 56.4 percent of the flights recorded in July 2019. Following closely behind are Chengdu Shuangliu (56.6 percent), Moscow SVO (61.4 percent), Beijing Capital (63.3 percent), and Detroit (71.5 percent).
The performance of Chengdu has been greatly impacted by the opening of Tianju, which now holds the 28th spot in global rankings for busiest airports. Beijing Capital, on the other hand, has been adversely affected by the inauguration of Daxing, which currently stands as the 38th busiest airport in the world.