Hartsfield-Jackson Declares it's the World's Busiest Airport

ATLANTA (AP) -- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport officials said Friday that the latest flight records prove the airport is the world's busiest.

Atlanta's airport had a total of 497,019 flights from January to June of this year. Atlanta's main competitor - Chicago O'Hare International Airport - had 483,473 flights, said Carolyn Blum, regional administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration.

The airport has seen 27 million passengers from January to April of this year, and is on track to serve 88 million passengers by the end of the year, said airport general manager Ben DeCosta. O'Hare served almost 24 million passengers in the same time period, said Dan Curtin, spokesman for the Chicago Department of Aviation.

Atlanta had previously edged out O'Hare in terms of number of passengers, handling 83 million last year. Chicago saw nearly 76 million passengers. These new numbers trump O'Hare's earlier claim on the title of ''world's busiest airport'' by total number of flights.

This is the busiest year for Hartsfield-Jackson since it opened 80 years ago. The airport is preparing to add a fifth runway and a new air traffic control tower in the next year.

Officials say flights out of Atlanta are back to the number seen before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. This is the safest three-year period in commercial aviation history, Blum said.

The airport was certainly busy for the holiday weekend. Hartsfield-Jackson is expecting to see 1.4 million travelers during the Fourth of July weekend, which is counted as travel from Thursday through Tuesday. Friday, 295,000 travelers were expected to pass through the airport, said Charisma Cannon, spokeswoman for the airport.

''It's been a little more stressful than usual because it's tiring. The long lines and delays all add up,'' said Olu Amudipe, who was traveling from Philadelphia to Charlotte, N.C.

To avoid crowds, Blum advised travelers to fly as early in the morning as possible, and to fly on the non-peak days of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday. Blum also said to avoid traveling between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., when airports are at their busiest.

Officials are reminding passengers not to pack fireworks now that some fireworks are legal in Georgia. The government can fine an individual up to $32,000 and corporations up to $500,000 if they try to fly with fireworks.

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