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Friday, February 9, 2018
January 26, 2017

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World's busiest airport title slips further from O'Hare's grasp ​

O'Hare International Airport has fallen a little further behind in its bid to regain its crown as the world's busiest airfield.

New figures released today indicate the total number of flight operations at O'Hare (a combination of arriving and departing flights) dropped 0.9 percent in 2016, while operations at Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport increased 1.8 percent.

That left O'Hare with 867,635 to Atlanta's 898,356.

O'Hare had pulled ahead in 2014, but was narrowly edged out by Hartsfield in 2015.

No other American airport comes close to those two. Third-place Los Angeles International had 696,890 flights, according to the FAA.

The Chicago Department of Aviation had no immediate comment, but has been reconfiguring the airport with new and relocated runways, and is in the early stages of adding new gates—both needed, it argues, to restore O'Hare's standing.

You'll read a lot more about the status of that effort in the upcoming issue of Crain's, when my colleague John Pletz and I take an in-depth look at O'Hare.

Operations at Chicago's other airport, Midway, were essentially unchanged last year, dropping 0.2 percent to 253,046 flights, according to the FAA. That suggests that, at least for now, Midway's era of fast growth is over.

Update— The city notes that while flights were down, passengers (enplanements) going through O’Hare were up 1.31 percent and up 2.09 percent at Midway.