Anomaly: Ted Stevens International was world’s busiest airport on April 25


It’s all about the cargo.

On Saturday, April 25, the Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport was momentarily the world’s busiest airport, according to airport managers and their data tools.

“This points to how significantly the global aviation system has changed and highlights the significance of our role in the global economy and fight against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the division of DOT said.

On that day, Anchorage had 948 airport arrivals and departures, compared to London Heathrow, with 682 arrivals and departures, according to FlightRadar 24 data.

It’s not that Anchorage had more passenger flights — it did not. But with it being the fifth-busiest cargo hub in the world, and with passenger flights being canceled everywhere, Anchorage’s airport briefly dominated the flight map, while the Atlanta Airport, which is generally the world’s busiest airport, was a ghost town.

Atlanta Airport Concourse C escalator was empty on Sunday.

Due to special cargo transfer rights, and the fact that Anchorage is an equal distance between Asia and North America, the Ted Stevens International Airport has also been the second-busiest cargo terminal in the United States for several years.

In April, Flightradar24 tracked an average of 69,586 total flights per day, a 62% decrease from April 2019. The busiest sky day in April was April 28, with 80,714 flights.

Commercial flights in April averaged 29,439 per day, compared to 111,799 flights per day in 2019.


  1. The way your article is written is misleading….the flights you speak of are in the air passing overhead and only some are landing, the rest are in airspace. Anchorage International can track some but the Center is the main source of top of the world tracking of all flights coming and going. You are giving the wrong impression.

    • DK, I am reporting exactly what the Anchorage airport reported, using almost their exact words. I guess they could be wrong. I tried to independently verify, but do not have the tracking tools. -sd

      • The article is entirely accurate as written. The entire point of the DOT announcement was to highlight the actual arrivals and departures at the ANC airport—not how many aircraft transitioned through Anchorage Center airspace. The latter number would be much higher. Forbes ran the story as well.

  2. ANC data was landings not overflights. There is a steady stream of aircraft flowing through ANC. World’s busiest airport and seaplane base.

  3. Some company is making a killing off of all that Jet Fuel…too bad Alaska has no state income tax.

  4. “On that day, Anchorage had 948 airport arrivals and departures”

    This statement is very clear—that the ANC airport serviced 948 arrivals and departures on April 25th. Cargo operations comprised a significant amount of the total flights as operations continue in large numbers.. The departures and arrivals are distinct from aircraft transitioning through Anchorage Center airspace—that was the entire point of the DOT announcement.

    Suzanne is correct with her article; Forbes has run the piece as well.

  5. This is great news to hear that Ted Stevens is doing so well.
    Federal Care money that has gone to Alaska Aviation is predominately going to the busiest airport in the world, while Alaska airports and professional aviators elsewhere in the state are being told by D.O.T. that the funds are not directed to their needs. Help me to understand the Relief Concept? Ted Stevens and D.O.T. is rightfully seizing the opportunities of current cargo flight needs; however, Alaska professional aviators throughout Alaska don’t count. Or, “we don’t care?”

  6. I am very surprised the numbers are so high. I live directly under the flight corridor SE of Fairbanks and am unusually cognizant of the air traffic going overhead. On a normal spring day I’d hear several commercial jets, a few small prop planes, and occasional military aircraft. In April of this year I recall ONE commercial jet which surprised the heck out of me and two small planes, TOTAL. That Anchorage still has these numbers is a testament to this sectors’ ability to keep the economic ball rolling when everything else has square wheels!

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