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Capital to be world's busiest airport

(Global Times)

09:06, December 09, 2011

Beijing Capital International Airport is expected to overtake Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta as the world's busiest airport next year, according to the New York Daily News. The paper said the change has come due to the strong growth of Asian airports.

According to an airline analyst, OAG Aviation, Atlanta currently exceeds Beijing's capacity by 400,000 seats over the last few months, hinting that the capital airport will become the busiest sometime next year.

An anonymous staff member with the public relations department at Beijing Capital International Airport said seats flying in and out are increasing by at least 6 million each year. But the staff member couldn't confirm the airport would overtake Atlanta.

"The airport taking top spot is only a prediction," he told the Global Times yesterday. He said economic conditions and airline capacities will affect the result. "We had 740 million seats last year and we will have at least 790 million seats this year, so the seats will be up to 800 million at the end of next year," he said.

However, Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China, expressed his confidence in Beijing Capital International Airport. "According to released data and the fast development of China's economy, I believe Beijing Capital International Airport will overtake Atlanta next year," Li told the Global Times yesterday.

According to Li, data shows Beijing Capital International Airport will have 850 million seats and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport will have 870 million by the end of this year. But he said the growth rate for Beijing's airport will be 6 to 8 percent and the growth rate for Atlanta will be 2 percent next year.

CAPA further suggested Atlanta will not be the only airport that loses its position. He said Haneda Airport in Tokyo now handles more seats than London Heathrow Airport.

Flights within Asia have grown. Ten years ago they represented a quarter of the world's flights, now they represent one third, according to the investigation made by OAG.

"Asia has a larger population than North America and Europe, and the international tourism industry for Asia has developed quickly in recent years, so it has a bigger share," said the staff member at Beijing Capital International Airport.

Li Xiaojin agreed and said the economic crises in North America and Europe will also affect airport business outside of Asia. "The airports in Asia and Latin America have developed rapidly and the economy has had a smaller impact on them. Airports in Brazil, Russia, China and India have made significant development in recent years," Li told the Global Times yesterday.

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