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The global impact of COVID-19 meant that 2020’s world traffic rankings had a very different look to normal, with Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) in China replacing Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL) as the busiest gateway on the planet.

Guangzhou Baiyun took top spot by handling 43.7 million passengers in 2020, just under 850,000 more than ATL. Six other Chinese airports also appear in the Top 10, many for the first time. They include Chengdu Shuangliu, Shenzhen Bao’an, Chongqing Jiangbei, Kunming Changshui and Shanghai Hongqiao.

ACI World’s preliminary world airport traffic rankings show that global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports decreased by -45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by -64.6%, clearly demonstrating the negative impact of the pandemic, and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world.

In most cases for the world’s Top 10 busiest airports in 2020, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remains depressed because of on-going travel restrictions.

For example, Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in China has moved from 46th position in 2019 to the 9th in 2020, illustrating the uneven nature of the impact of, and recovery from, the pandemic across the world.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global passenger traffic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face an existential threat,” noted ACI World director general, Luis Felipe de Oliveira.

“The data reveals the challenge airports continue to face, and it remains absolutely imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

“The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

“With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realised with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and co-ordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.”


Multiplex Constructions has won the contract to design and build the passenger terminal at Australia’s planned new Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport.

The A$5.3 billion airport is slated to open in late 2026 and will initially be equipped to handle around 10 million passengers per annum.

Airbiz is the designated specialist airport planner on the project, led by Multiplex and supported by Woods Bagot and Arup.

Australia’s Minister for Communications, Urban infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, believes that the contract award is an important step in the development of Sydney’s new airport.

“The unveiling of the final designs of the new Western Sydney Airport is a major milestone towards the delivery of one of the most significant infrastructure projects in Australia,” said Fletcher.

“After several years of preparing the airport site, including moving 18 million cubic metres of earth to date, construction is on track to commence on the integrated passenger terminal at the end of the year.

“This project is a unique opportunity to build an airport from the ground up – allowing us to deploy the latest technology to ensure the passenger experience is smoother and easier than today’s airports, and the security systems more effective but less intrusive.

“The new terminal will not only be a state-of-the art piece of infrastructure but a driver of jobs and economic growth for the region, and form an integral element of the surrounding aerotropolis and the broader Western Parkland city.”


Incheon International Airport Corporation (IIAC) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Israel Aerospace Industries’ (IAI) Aviation Group and Sharp Technics K to establish a passenger to freighter (P2F) conversion site in South Korea.

The facility at Incheon International Airport will specialise in converting Boeing 777-ERSF (Big Twin) from passenger to freighter aircraft from 2024.

Within the framework of the agreement, IAI will initially convert six B777-300ER, and a B777-200LR per year, with the deal providing scope for the agreement to be expanded to twin-aisle freighter heavy maintenance additionally.

According to the South Korean gateway, establishing more P2F aircraft conversion facilities around the world is necessary in order to meet the expected rise in demand for wide-body freighter aircraft with capacity for long-haul flights.

All converted freighters at the IIAC site will be exported to express shipping service providers. It is anticipated that the aggregated export value from the first conversion release in 2024 to 2040 will be close to $1 billion and that the new venture will create around new 2,100 jobs.

Kyung-wook Kim, president and CEO of Incheon International Airport Corporation, said: “By attracting the first overseas production base of IAI’s large-sized cargo aircraft to the Incheon Airport MRO cluster, which exclusively possesses the technology for retrofitting Boeing’s large passenger aircraft, we will grow together and contribute greatly to the development of the national and regional economy.”


Home brewing giant, Bevie, will soon be joining the growing list of tenants at Brisbane Airport (BNE) following the sod-turning ceremony for its new 2,600sqm facility in a warehousing industrial duplex facility on Grevillea Place in Export Park.

Martin Ryan, Brisbane Airport Corporation’s executive general manager for commercial, said: “Bevie’s arrival is very exciting for all of us at Brisbane Airport as it diversifies the mix of industries we have here on site.

“We have a number of exciting projects underway and a property assets portfolio exceeding A$1.7 billion. Bevie is a part of BNE’s exciting future, which includes the opening of the BNE Auto Mall in 2024.”

In late May 2021, BNE announced that freight forwarder, Stockwell International, had become its newest tenant by opening a 1,500sqm warehouse at the gateway.


Dubai International Airport (DXB) has gained Airport Health Accreditation from ACI, the certification officially endorsing its efforts to ensure the health and safety of passengers and airport workers.

Dubai Airports CEO, Paul Griffiths, says. “As one of the world’s leading hubs, DXB had a critical role to play in restoring passenger confidence to enable the resumption of international air travel last year and help kick start the much needed global economic and social recovery.

“The crucial first step towards achieving those objectives was the implementation of comprehensive measures that demonstrated to our customers that their health and safety are a top priority for Dubai Airports.”

These comprehensive measures have included fumigation as well as periodic deep cleaning of airport facilities, facilitating the testing of inbound passengers, the vaccination of airport staff, and the use of protective plexiglass at check-in and immigration counters.

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