Atlanta Remains the World's Busiest Airport

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Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport keeps the title of world's busiest airport, with Beijing's Capital International taking second place.

The results come from a preliminary report released yesterday by Airports Council International, which monitored world traffic growth at more than 900 airports.

The council's statistics, which measured changes from 2009 to 2010, highlight the top 30 airports worldwide in three categories: total traffic, total passengers and cargo, reports the Associated Press.

London's Heathrow Airport was bumped from second place to fourth; Chicago's O'Hare is now in third place. Atlanta ranked first in total takeoffs and landings, with more than 950,000, and saw 89 million passengers. Hong Kong ranked first in cargo traffic, with 4.1 million planes loaded or unloaded.

Angela Gittens, the council's director general, said in a statement, "2010 underscored the resilience of the air transport business and resulted in over 5 billion annual passengers for the first time ever."

Some factors in play affecting traffic in 2010 were the volcanic ash cloud that hit Europe particularly hard in April and the unusually harsh winter weather in December. Slow economic recovery and restraint of air carriers in adding domestic capacity led to modest growth in North America, according to the council.

The Middle East and Asia Pacific sustained strong momentum and gained market share through double-digit growth, Gibbons said.

"Given China's massive population base, a population that is increasingly able to travel by air, and China's role in global commerce and tourism ... China will be the primary driver behind much of the region's growth," says Henry Harteveldt, an airline analyst with Forrester Research, reports USA Today.

Heathrow and Las Vegas were the only airports among the world's 30 largest where traffic decreased in 2010. A final report will be released later this year.

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