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The world’s busiest airport? It’s Atlanta, yet again

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The “World’s Busiest Airport” title for 2017 will go to a familiar address.

The Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is forecast to take that title for 2017, marking the 20th consecutive year that the airport has hosted more passengers than any other airport on the planet.

That’s according to the preliminary full-year passenger numbers for 2017 released Monday by the Airports Council International (ACI) trade group. Though preliminary, the rankings typically do not change between the preliminary count and the “final” numbers that are confirmed later in the year.

Atlanta finished first ahead of No. 2 Beijing Capital and third-place Dubai. Rounding out the top five were Tokyo Haneda and Los Angeles, which bested No. 6 Chicago O’Hare by about 4.5 million passengers to remain the USA’s second-busiest. The biggest shakeup for U.S. airports came in New York, where previously 16th-ranked New York JFK fell out of the global top 20 — overtaken by airports in India and China.  

LISTThe world’s 20 busiest airports (2017)

As for Atlanta, not only did it hold on to the top ranking, but it also counted more than 100 million passengers for the third year in a row. Atlanta became the first airport in the world to break that threshold in 2015, when it processed 101.5 million passengers.

For the year that just ended, Atlanta’s passenger count came in at 103,902,992, according to ACI’s preliminary numbers. While that still made Atlanta the only airport to crack the 100 million flier threshold, the passenger count there actually dropped by 0.3% from the 104.2 million fliers it counted in 2016.

PHOTO TOUR: Planespotting at Los Angeles International (LAX) — story continues below

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That made Atlanta the only airport among the world’s 20 busiest to count fewer passengers in 2017 than it did in 2016.

Still, Atlanta (airport code ATL) also remained the world’s busiest airport as measured by “aircraft movements,” another count of how busy an airport is. “Movements” refers to the number of takeoffs and landings at an airport. Atlanta had briefly lost the title for most movements to Chicago O’Hare in 2014, but surged back past its Illinois rival in 2015 and appears set to retain the title again in 2017 for the second consecutive year.

When measuring by “movements,” all four of the world’s busiest airports were in the U.S, with Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth filling in the three spots after Atlanta. Denver (No. 6), Charlotte (No. 7) and Las Vegas (No. 8) also finished among the world’s 10 busiest as measured by movements.

While both the “passengers” and “movements” counts are legitimate, it’s the passenger tally that’ is the traditional barometer for determining the “busiest airports.” (See the full top 20 lists)

Atlanta, of course, is the busiest hub for Delta Air Lines, which operates a massive connecting hub there.

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Coming in No. 2 in the count was China’s Beijing Capital International Airport, which narrowed its gap with Atlanta from about 10 million fewer passengers in 2016 to about 8 million in 2017. Beijing’s passenger count increased 1.5% year-over-year.

But the fastest growing airport among the world’s major airports was in India.

“Delhi (DEL) jumped from 22nd to 16th solidifying its status as one of the fastest growing airports in the world for passenger traffic,” ACI said in a statement revealing the preliminary numbers.

“Guangzhou (CAN), in China, grew by 10.3% making it the second fastest growing airport among the top 20,” ACI added.

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