The figures, released ahead of the start of ACI's Airport Economics and Finance Conference & Exhibition in London, reveal that a total of 103.9 million passengers passed through ATL, while HKG handled five million tonnes of freight.
ACI notes that demand continued its "robust year-on-year growth across the world’s major airports both in terms of passenger numbers and air cargo" during 2017.
It says that passenger traffic at the world’s 20 busiest airports grew by 5.2% in 2017, and that the gateway's handled 1.5 billion passengers between them last year – 17% of the global passenger traffic.
Beijing Capital (PEK) and Dubai (DXB) retained their respective status as the second and third busiest passenger airports on the planet in 2017.
ACI notes that Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL) jumped from 22nd to 16th solidifying its status as one of the fastest growing airports in the world for passenger traffic.
Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN), in China, grew by 10.3% making it the second fastest growing airport among the top 20 busiest passenger gateways.
The world's top 20 cargo airports handled 51 million tonnes (+6.8%) of freight between them in 2017, a sizeable 43% of global air cargo volumes.
After Hong Kong (HKG), the world's busiest cargo airports are Memphis (MEM), Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Seoul-Incheon (ICN) and Anchorage (ANC).
Of the top 20, Shanghai Pudong, Chicago O'Hare and Doha's Hamad International Airport all experienced double digit growth of 11.2%, 12.6% and 15% respectively.
ACI says that air cargo experienced a revival across many of the world’s airports in 2017 and into 2018, noting that "even with the uncertainty regarding the threat of trade wars and the growth of protectionist sentiments across the world, business confidence has remained strong through inventory build-ups and increased export orders in 2017".
A strengthened economy in the United States (US), together with an increase in global industrial production, and a strong US dollar have boosted inbound air cargo markets in recent years.
Key air cargo centres, such as Chicago O'Hare, experienced growth of 12.6% for 2017. ACI points out that the gateway has significantly expanded its air cargo facilities.
The airport has also benefitted from international trade with China and other Asian countries as ORD’s international freight volumes increased by 12.2% in 2017.
Global summary: Preliminary year-over-year growth for 2017, compared to 2016
- Total passengers: +6.6%
- Total international passengers: +8.4%
- Total cargo (includes mail): +7.9%
- Total international freight: +9.9%
- Total aircraft movements: +2.4%
“The surge in cargo volumes and passenger numbers across many of the world’s airports is testament to heightened business and consumer confidence, at least in the short term,” enthuses ACI World's director general, Angela Gittens.
“The world’s airports continue to be a vital link in the economic multiplier effect that aviation provides and the role it plays as an enabler for global commerce is growing
“The universal access to online retail and e-commerce platforms represents a competitive pressure to the traditional brick and mortar retail shops in certain markets but the huge growth in e-commerce has fuelled the air cargo side of the airport business.
"This has resulted in increased global activity, especially in major markets such as China and the US.”