Busiest airport is in Atlanta
Denver's airport had the largest gain among U.S. airports.
GENEVA (AP) -- Atlanta's Hartsfield International held its ranking as the world's busiest passenger airport in 2006, followed by Chicago's O'Hare and London's Heathrow.
Some 84.8 million passengers went through the Atlanta terminal, the Geneva-based Airports Council International said. It was a 1.2-percent decline over the previous year. O'Hare had 76.2 million, and Heathrow 67.5 million, both numbers signal modest decreases in passengers compared with 2005.
Traffic at U.S. airports declined because of the restructuring of Delta and Northwest and the closure of Independence Air, the council said.
"Heathrow's flat results stemmed from the August security scare and severe weather in December, but also show the stagnating effect of lack of expansion," the council said.
Rest of the list
Filling out the top 10 were Tokyo's Haneda, with 65.2 million; Los Angeles, 61 million; Dallas-Fort Worth, 60 million; Paris Charles de Gaulle, 56.8 million; Frankfurt, 52.8 million; Beijing, 48.5 million; and Denver, 47.3 million.
Beijing was the top performer in the Asia Pacific region with an 18-percent increase in passenger traffic, the council said. Denver was the best U.S. performer with a 9.1-percent increase.
Hartsfield also led in numbers of flights, handling 976,447, a decline of 0.4 percent. O'Hare, which was first in 2005, finished second last year with 958,643, a drop of 1.4 percent.
The total number of passengers worldwide rose by 5.1 percent to 4.4 billion, according to the council.
Busiest for cargo
Memphis, Tennessee -- headquarters of Federal Express -- continued to have the world's busiest airport for cargo, handling 3.7 million metric tons (4.08 million U.S. tons). Hong Kong was second with 3.6 million metric tons (3.97 million U.S. tons). Anchorage, Alaska, was third with 2.8 million metric tons (3.09 million U.S. tons).
The numbers released last week by the Airports Council may change slightly in June when final figures are released.