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I'm trying to do a research project on flights between cities. I need data on total passenger traffic for each airport. It's relatively easy to get this in the US - both the Bureau of Transportation Statistics and the FAA provide that data. I can't find this data for international airports. I want some dataset that looks like (numbers in sample are not accurate):

Airport,Traffic
DEN,34348934
SIN,3423423434
LHR, 3423434

ICAO to traffic is OK to but IATA to traffic is preferred. I would accept data that has traffic in terms of flight movements, but passenger traffic is preferred.

I can find paid services that provide this for >$10k but nothing remotely affordable for an individual undertaking a research project.

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  • 2
    Not the movement data you're after, but openflights.org/data.html is a fantastic resource for airport codes, names, etc if you're doing a big dataset
    – Mark Mayo
    Mar 7 '20 at 3:32
  • 1
    Yep, I already have that for some airport to city population analysis I want to also do. Good call out though!
    – Ben Cooper
    Mar 7 '20 at 3:33
  • We have a sister site Open Data which specializes in questions like this.
    – Glorfindel
    Mar 8 '20 at 14:39
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Similar to you, for a private project in the past I wanted some statistics about airports and came across the hurdle that to access such information was too expensive for an individual.

In the end the best sources I could find where either;

  • National transport authorities of various countries (such as the FAA, CAA etc.)
  • Wikipedia

The national transport authorities have varying amounts of statistics, and suffer from the problem that some publish data, some don't publish in English, some don't publish at all and of course that you need to search 100s of authorities to try to get all the data! (PS. You can try Eurostat for the EU).

So realistically this is only possible for a few of the authorities.

Wikipedia.org is another source. Generally they only publish data on specific themes such as "busiest airports by passenger traffic" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_busiest_airports_by_passenger_traffic). Of course, it might not be as accurate, might be out of date. But you can also see links to the sources used, which might also help.

Often you can find sub-sections (not always linked so you have to search via google), so that you might be able to also find out similar details for each Continent, geographical region, and sometimes countries.

For example: If you looked at "Busiest airports by continent" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busiest_airports_by_continent then you have an expanded list.
Plus, at the bottom of the page are sublinks to

  • List of the busiest airports in Africa
  • List of the busiest airports in Asia
  • List of the busiest airports in Australia
  • List of the busiest airports in Europe
  • List of the busiest airports in North America
  • List of the busiest airports in South America

    • List of the busiest airports in the Balkans
    • List of the busiest airports in the Baltic states
    • List of the busiest airports in the Caribbean
    • List of the busiest airports in Central America
    • List of the busiest airports in the former USSR
    • List of the busiest airports in Latin America
    • List of the busiest airports in the Nordic countries

Then sometimes when you look at these, you find other links. E.g. If you looked for Europe then there also links to UK, Germany, Spain etc.

In the end, these were the best sources that I could find for free.

If you are doing your research as part of studies for a university degree or similar, then I would additionally suggest that you try to reach out directly to IATA, ACI (Airports Council International) and see if they might provide you with a limited dataset (maybe 1 or 2 years out of date) which you might be able to use for free.

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I'm not aware of any free and comprehensive sources for this kind of thing, but if you have time to cobble together a reasonable approximation, I would start with Wikipedia's Lists of busiest airports. This has links to articles that rank a country or region's airports by passenger traffic, and provide the figures you're looking for. For example, here's the one for Russia.

Obvious caveats: the lists are often missing smaller airports, have different formatting so automated scraping will be difficult, and like anything else on Wikipedia are subject to vandalism, edit wars, etc.

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