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2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports – Further Analysis

Top 30 Busiest Airports – Further Analysis

We recently announced the 2014 top 30 busiest airports list by passenger numbers (refer to this link for the full list).  In this entry, we will dive deeper on their operations, competitive environment and how they rank against their peers.

Details

Before we begin our analysis, we will quickly address the most asked question from readers – “Which airport just missed the list?”

The answer would be Munich Airport (MUC). With a total of 39.72 million, this Bavarian airport was less than 60,000 passengers from the thirtieth place on the list. Although it had a growth of 2.7%, it was not able to outpace São Paulo–Guarulhos International Airport (GRU)’s tremendous growth generated by the World Cup in 2014.

Munich Airport
Munich Airport – Image taken from the airport’s website on April 2, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Other airports in the running in 2014 were: Sydney Kingsford-Smith Airport (SYD), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport (FCO) and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SWA).

Operations – City

In the full top 30 list, there are many cities that operate more than one airport in its vicinity (e.g. London has 5 medium to large airports – Heathrow (LHR) (third on the list), Gatwick (LGW), City Airport (LCY), Luton (LTN) and Stansted (STN)).   Here are the top 5 busiest airports:

2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports by Passengers
2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports by Passengers – Information taken from ICAO and various airport’s website, infographics created by Experience The Skies – March 31, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

The following is a list of cities when all their major airports combined:

2014 Top 10 Airport Cities
2014 Top 10 Airport Cities – Information taken from ICAO and various airport’s website, infographics created by Experience The Skies – April 2, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

No. 1 – With five airports, London continues to be a passenger service leader in the aviation industry. This position will likely not be challenged for the next 3 years.

No. 2 – New York City is in second place when its three main airports’ traffic are combined together. Although it is located in New Jersey, we counted Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) as flights are often marketed as New York City.

No.3  – Tokyo is in third place based on the strength of both Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) and Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT). As HND continues to expand its international operations (refer to our series on the Haneda slot allocation) and Narita turns in discounters for growth, this Japanese city should have no problems retaining third place going into 2015.

Of the other airports on the list, No. 8 Istanbul will continue to expands and challenge the top 5 in the next 2-3 years.  No.10 Bangkok will likely drop off the list given its turmoil with the ICAO (refer to our coverage on its challenges ahead).

Competitive Environment

Airlines and Alliances

Successful airports are often attached with large airlines and their associated alliance. As noted from the table below, only two out of the top 30 busiest airports have home airlines that are not affiliated to an alliance.

Sixth place Dubai International Airport (DXB) is home to Emirates (EK) which decided to operate on its own with one of the largest wide-body aircrafts in the industry.

Southwest Airlines (WN) is the largest tenant for No.25 McCarran International Airport (LAS). The low cost carrier operates the largest network in the domestic US market (refer to our coverage of its new livery here).

2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports Largest Airline and Alliance
2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports Largest Airline and Alliance – – Information taken from various airport’s website & wikipedia, infographics created by Experience The Skies – April 2, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

It is interesting to note that both Star Alliance and oneworld have one third shares of the top 30 busiest airports. The former is the largest airline alliance in the world (refer to our coverage of the alliance here).  Not surprisingly, the largest airline of the world by passenger, American Airlines (AA), is the biggest tenant of 5 airports on the list.

2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports Largest Airline and Alliance
014 Top 30 Busiest Airports Largest Airline and Alliance – – Information taken from various airport’s website & wikipedia, infographics created by Experience The Skies – April 2, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Using passenger traffic as a metric, the distribution slightly favored Star Alliance as it has more airports in the top 20 than oneworld.

2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports Largest Airline and Alliance
2014 Top 30 Busiest Airports Largest Airline and Alliance – – Information taken from various airport’s website & wikipedia, infographics created by Experience The Skies – April 2, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Capital Improvements

All the airports on the list have embarked on some to significant capital improvements to modernize its terminal facilities, transportation support and runway expansion over the past 3 years. It is important for these airports to continue to expand or face stagnant passenger growth since capacity is reached (For example, 1. Beijing is building a new airport south of the capital to handle 45 million additional passengers from the region by 2018) (refer to our coverage on this new airport here), 2. London is deciding on how to proceed with its expansion plans (refer to post 1, post 2), 3. Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) will open terminal 4 in 2017 less than 5 years closing its 6 year old budget terminal (refer to video below)).

Ranking

Skytrax is one of the many ranking metrics used to determine how well airports are performing. Experience The Skies was on hand to watch the 2015 World Top 100 Airports Awards (voted by passengers) ceremony at the Passenger Terminal Expo held in Paris, France (refer to our coverage here).

SkyTrax(TM) currently only listed 5 airports with 5 stars ranking. 4 of them are also part of the top 30 busiest airports (the last one is Munich Airport (MUC)).  Seven airports also made it to the World’s Top 100 Airports 2015 list as chosen by passengers randomly (refer to this link for the full list).

Skytrax and 2015 top 100 airports
Skytrax and 2015 top 100 airports – information taken from Skytrax’s website http://www.skytraxresearch.com and www.worldairportawards.com on April 2, 2015 (All Rights Reserved)

Final Call

The Top 30 busiest airports all have distinct advantages to its peers both operationally by having good anchored airlines/alliances, capital improvements and quality ranking.

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