Mapping Airways: The World’s Flight Paths and Airports
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Mapping Airways: World’s Flight Paths and Airports
There are up to 8,755 commercial flights in the air at any given time of day. These flights transport thousands of people (and millions of dollars worth of goods) around the world.
But where are these people and goods headed? This map from Adam Symington uses historical data from OpenFlights to visualize the world’s flight paths.
The graphic shows a comprehensive data set encompassing 67,663 different routes that connect 10,000 different airports across the globe.
A Note On the Data
The map uses an OpenFlights database provided by the third-party source that hasn’t been updated since June 2014.
Because of this, the data used for the graphic is of historical value only. However, this detailed map sparked our curiosity and got us wondering—what are some of the busiest aviation hubs around the world right now?
We did some digging, and here’s what we found.
Busiest Airports by Passengers
There are several ways to gauge an airport’s popularity. One way is to measure total passenger traffic throughout the year.
According to Airports Council International (ACI), eight of the top 10 busiest airports for passenger traffic in 2021 were in America. Here’s a look at the top 10 list, as of April 11, 2022:
|Rank||Airport||Country||Passenger Traffic (2021)|
|1||Atlanta GA (ATL)||🇺🇸 US||75,704,760|
|2||Dallas/Fort Worth TX (DFW)||🇺🇸 US||62,465,756|
|3||Denver CO (DEN)||🇺🇸 US||58,828,552|
|4||Chicago IL (ORD)||🇺🇸 US||54,020,399|
|5||Los Angeles CA (LAX)||🇺🇸 US||48,007,284|
|6||Charlotte NC (CLT)||🇺🇸 US||43,302,230|
|7||Orlando FL (MCO)||🇺🇸 US||40,351,068|
|8||Guangzhou (CAN)||🇨🇳 China||40,259,401|
|9||Chengdu (CTU)||🇨🇳 China||40,117,496|
|10||Las Vegas NV (LAS)||🇺🇸 US||39,754,366|
In 2021, the airport with the most passenger traffic was Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. It accommodated more than 75 million passengers last year—a 76.4% increase compared to 2020 figures.
Hartsfield-Jackson is well-known for being one of the busiest airports in the world. One reason for this is its convenient location—according to the airport’s official website, Atlanta is within a two-hour flight from 80% of the U.S. population.
Dallas/Forth Worth (DFW) came in second place, seeing 62.5 million passengers throughout 2021. DFW was one of the only airports to boost its service offerings throughout the pandemic, and is also the main hub for American Airlines, the world’s largest airline by fleet size.
Busiest Airports by Cargo
While the U.S. dominates the ranking when it comes to passenger traffic, the list is much more diverse when looking at air cargo volumes. Here’s a look at the ranking, based on loaded and unloaded freight and mail (including transit freight):
|Rank||Airport||Country||Cargo Traffic (Metric Tonnes, 2021)|
|1||Hong Kong SAR (HKG)||🇭🇰 Hong Kong||5,025,495|
|2||Memphis TN (MEM)||🇺🇸 US||4,480,465|
|3||Shanghai (PVG)||🇨🇳 China||3,982,616|
|4||Anchorage AK (ANC)||🇺🇸 US||3,555,160|
|5||Incheon (ICN)||🇰🇷 South Korea||3,329,292|
|6||Louisville KY (SDF)||🇺🇸 US||3,052,269|
|7||Taipei (TPE)||🇹🇼 Taiwan||2,812,065|
|8||Los Angeles CA (LAX)||🇺🇸 US||2,691,830|
|9||Tokyo (NRT)||🇯🇵 Japan||2,644,074|
|10||Doha (DOH)||🇶🇦 Qatar||2,620,095|
Hong Kong (HKG) takes the top spot since the airport processed more than 5.0 million metric tonnes of freight and mail throughout 2021.
Hong Kong has been known as one of the busiest air cargo hubs for over a decade and is able to maintain this reputation because of its strategic location, impressive infrastructure, efficient customs, and business-friendly trade regulations.
The COVID-19 Impact on Aviation
The global pandemic hit the aviation industry hard. At its lowest point, international travel was down 98% from normal levels.
While the aviation industry is starting to recover from its COVID-induced slump, things still haven’t fully bounced back yet, especially in places like Shanghai, where lockdowns are still being mandated.
But experts remain hopeful for the future. According to ACI World’s General Director Luis Felipe de Oliveira, last year’s recovery was just the beginning.
“With many countries taking steps towards the return of a certain normality, lifting almost all the health measures and travel restrictions as supported by science, we welcome the continuation of air travel demand’s recovery in 2022.”
-Luis Felipe de Oliveira, ACI World’s Director General
This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.
Mapped: Renewable Energy and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
This graphic describes new U.S. renewable energy installations by state along with nameplate capacity, planned to come online in 2023.
Renewable and Battery Installations in the U.S. in 2023
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Renewable energy, in particular solar power, is set to shine in 2023. This year, the U.S. plans to get over 80% of its new energy installations from sources like battery, solar, and wind.
The above map uses data from EIA to highlight planned U.S. renewable energy and battery storage installations by state for 2023.
Texas and California Leading in Renewable Energy
Nearly every state in the U.S. has plans to produce new clean energy in 2023, but it’s not a surprise to see the two most populous states in the lead of the pack.
Even though the majority of its power comes from natural gas, Texas currently leads the U.S. in planned renewable energy installations. The state also has plans to power nearly 900,000 homes using new wind energy.
California is second, which could be partially attributable to the passing of Title 24, an energy code that makes it compulsory for new buildings to have the equipment necessary to allow the easy installation of solar panels, battery storage, and EV charging.
New solar power in the U.S. isn’t just coming from places like Texas and California. In 2023, Ohio will add 1,917 MW of new nameplate solar capacity, with Nevada and Colorado not far behind.
|Top 10 States||Battery (MW)||Solar (MW)||Wind (MW)||Total (MW)|
The state of New York is also looking to become one of the nation’s leading renewable energy providers. The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is making real strides towards this objective with 11% of the nation’s new wind power projects expected to come online in 2023.
According to the data, New Hampshire is the only state in the U.S. that has no new utility-scale renewable energy installations planned for 2023. However, the state does have plans for a massive hydroelectric plant that should come online in 2024.
Renewable energy is considered essential to reduce global warming and CO2 emissions.
In line with the efforts by each state to build new renewable installations, the Biden administration has set a goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.
The EIA forecasts the share of U.S. electricity generation from renewable sources rising from 22% in 2022 to 23% in 2023 and to 26% in 2024.
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