2015 Busiest Airports In The World By Passengers Part 3

Tokyo Haneda Airport Terminal 2

This the final part of the insight into the 2015 busiest airports of the world.  In part 1, we provided an overview, unveiling of the Top 30 list and a detail look at the Top 5 busiest airports by passengers in 2015 (Follow part 1 of the series here). Part 2 of the series followed the Top 6-30 list and some of key facts on how some airports rise and fell in the last five year (Follow part 2 of the series here). In the final part, we will example passenger experience and how airports are improving that aspect with high operational performance and direct rail access.


2015 Busiest Airports

As a recap, this is the Top 30 Busiest Airports by Passengers list in 2015:

2015 World Top 30 Busiest Airports By Passenger Listing

2015 World Top 30 Busiest Airports By Passenger 



Skytrax is a non-profit organization that has been known for tracking airline/airport quality through independent quality reviews and customer survey. It publishes a separate list of airport ranking (based on survey) and stars (based on review) annually for the travel industry. Based on mapping the top 30 busiest airports to these rankings (noted below), there is no direct correlation between passenger numbers to perceived/reviewed quality.  However, it is important to note that airports that are rated higher for quality may be picked by passengers as a connection or departure point if other alternatives are available.
2015 World Top 30 Busiest Airports Skytrax
2015 World Top 30 Busiest Airports Skytrax – The World Airport Awards began in 1999, when Skytrax launched its first global, Airport customer satisfaction survey. In 2000, the survey attracted a worldwide completion of 1.02 million users, which has since grown annually, with the 2014-2015 survey achieving 13.02 million completed entries. The focus is to deliver a customer survey and airport awards process that is independent, impartial and global, and this ethos remains essential to all aspects in the present day. The survey and awards process is funded by Skytrax, and is not a profit-generating operation. From the World Airport Awards, a list of top 100 airports were produced. World Airport Rating is the global airport quality ranking programme operated by SKYTRAX, the international air transport rating organisation. Ratings are determined through direct and professional analysis of Quality standards, and the Airport Star Ratings are recognized as a global Benchmark of airport standards.

Airport Operational Performance

One of the more important scientific data for an airport is its on time (departure under 15 minutes) and delays (in minutes). In an ideal situation, airports would like to have a higher on time performance and lower delays. This would lower passenger anxiety and translate into high ancillary spending. The following table highlights the Top 30 busiest airports’ operational performance in April 2016 (Data from FlightStats, Inc.. © 2015-2016)

[table id=18 /]

Note that busiest does not equate to lower operational performance. Two of the top 5 busiest airports (ATL and HND) had some of the best on time percentages during April 2016. There are many factors that could affect operational performance. Some of them include:

  • Weather (airports like ORD (winter – snow) and DXB (summer – dust storms)) can play a havoc with scheduling and use of runways. The latter especially would impact airports with less runways (For example, LHR only has two runways).
  • Airport traffic restrictions (JFK is very close to the other two New York based airports (LGA and EWR). As such, there are restrictions on the number of departure and arrivals available per an hour).
  • Airline scheduling (LHR is highly congested with very little capacity available during peak hours. As such, when airline schedule their flights in this zone, there is a higher probability of delays).
  • Construction – as airports build capacity, there is a possibility that the use of runways could be limited due to the capital improvement. Runway 4L-22R at JFK was closed throughout the Summer of 2015 for lengthening.

On site Amenities – Multi-nodal Solutions

All the airports in the top 30 list can be reached by cars and buses. Many have also deployed a multi nodal rail (regional/local train, subway or airport express) access to improve passenger flow to and from the airport. The top 30 airports with direct rail links include:

2015 World Top 30 Busiest Airports Direct Rail Access

2015 World Top 30 Busiest Airports Direct Rail Access

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is the highest ranked airport without any direct rail access. However, the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail Line is being constructed that will link passengers to various parts of the city by 2019. Once completed the line is expected to have up to 21,000 riders daily. The other airports without any direct rail access do not have any immediate plans to build such options currently.