Top Biggest Airports in the World

By Dominika

July 20, 2023

Top Biggest Airports in the World

Today, traveling by plane is not something extraordinary. For many people, it is an essential means of transport, allowing them to take trips worldwide both for leisure and business. Airports around the globe conduct hundreds of passenger, cargo, and trade flights daily.

Apart from their transportation function, the airports also provide passengers with various activities to pass their time. It doesn’t matter whether you are patiently waiting for your flight connection or your plane was delayed, you may visit one of many boutiques to purchase luxurious perfumes and cosmetics, stay at the restaurant to have a bite of a tasty snack, or enjoy your free time in a private lounge.

But what makes some airports stand out? At Visafly, we collected some interesting facts about the world’s busiest and biggest airports.

What is the biggest airport in the world ?

What is the biggest airport in the world?

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest airport in the world is King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia, also known as Dammam International Airport. Named after the former King of the country, Fahd ibn Abdulaziz, it has been working commercially since 1999, providing flight connections to over 40 destinations.

The size of the port is impressive since it is larger than Bahrain – the country neighboring Saudi Arabia. The total area of the King Fahd International Airport is around 776 km2, the building alone being 327,000 m2. There are two runways, each of them 4 kilometers long, with the third runway currently under construction.

There are three terminal buildings at the Dammam Airport. The Passenger Terminal is used by everyday travelers, while the Aramco Terminal is available for Saudi Aramco Aviation employees. The Royal Terminal is reserved exclusively for the royal family of Saudi Arabia, government officials, and international guests.

King Fahd International Airport serves around 10 million passengers annually and operates 37 different airlines. Its busiest connection is from Dammam to Dubai, conducting about 70 weekly flights between these cities.

The six floors of the airport store duty-free boutiques, expensive gift shops, and cozy cafeterias. It also provides various facilities for visitors, for example Muslims may freely use the Airport Mosque for prayer. The airport also harvests its own plants in the private greenhouse.

Top 10 Largest Airports in the Word by Land Area

Top 10 Largest Airports in the Word by Land Area

Depending on passenger congestion, some airports must be transformed into enormous buildings. While small airports are suitable for local flights within the country, international journeys require longer runways and larger aircraft.

* NAME OF AIRPORT COUNTRY AREA
1 King Fahd International Airport (DMM) Saudi Arabia 776 km2
2 Denver International Airport (DEN) USA 136 km2
3 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) USA 70 km2
4 Orlando International Airport (MCO) USA 51 km2
5 Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) USA 48 km2
6 Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) China 47 km2
7 George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) USA 44.5 km2
8 Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) China 40 km2
9 Cairo International Airport (CAI) Egypt 37 km2
10 Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) Thailand 32.4 km2

1. King Fahd International Airport (DMM) – Saudi Arabia – 776 km2

King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia is considered the largest airport in the world. The total area of 776 km2 exceeds the territory of Bahrain, the neighboring country. It was classified by ICAO with Code E, meaning aircraft such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340 could be easily accommodated at this airport.

This place serves around 10 million passengers annually, allowing them international flights. Travelers may enjoy numerous facilities at the location, such as luxurious duty-free stores and tasty restaurants. There is also a mosque and a greenhouse on-site.

2. Denver International Airport (DEN) – USA – 136 km2

The largest airport in the United States is Denver International Airport. It was opened in 1995 and has now been operating for over 25 years. The airport’s runway is almost 5 kilometers long, being the longest public-use runway in North America.

Interestingly, the airport’s 24th birthday was celebrated by a campaign run by Karsh Hagan. For years, passengers could observe amusing art on the walls of the building, but the anniversary campaign presented something completely new. Chatty Gargoyle, an AI-powered animatronic, was greeting the passengers. The idea was to enhance the general experience of travelers and make their journey more exciting.

3. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – USA – 70 km2

The American Dallas Fort Worth International Airport operates on five terminals and 188 gates, connecting 260 different destinations. It is also said to be the largest hub for American Airlines.

Moreover, in 1995, the DFW Airport conducted the construction of the Founders’ Plaza. This open park area is dedicated to the founders of the airport, but it also focuses on American history, including John Neely Bryan Cabin and Kennedy Memorial. The Founders’ Plaza was also the place of the memorial acknowledging the victims of the September 11 attacks. If you have some free time, it is a good idea to see the Plaza yourself.

4. Orlando International Airport (MCO) – USA – 51 km2

What you may not know about the Orlando International Airport is that it was originally constructed as a facility for the United States Army Air Forces. American citizens could use the airport since 1975, and a year later, it gained international status. Its current airport code, MCO, stands for its former name – McCoy Air Force Base.

Many passengers who visited the Orlando International Airport used to be able to use Disney’s Magical Express. The service provided complimentary coach transportation to the chosen Disney World Hotel for travelers with proof of a valid reservation. However, transportation to the Disney World hotels was canceled at the end of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) – USA – 48 km2

Occupying an area of 48 km2, the Washington Dulles Internation Airport is located in the Eastern United States. Its name commemorates John Foster Dulles, the Secretary of State in the years 1953 – 1959, serving under President Dwight Eisenhower. At the port, there are over 130 gates at which employees of 36 airlines welcome passengers.

An agreement from 2022 between the Washington Dulles International Airport and Dominion Energy states that the airport will make use of eco-friendly solar panels. It is estimated that the obtained energy would be enough to power around 37,000 American houses.

6. Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) – China – 47 km2

Beijing Daxing International Airport is the largest single-terminal airport in the world. Together with the main airport, Beijing Capital International Airport, it welcomes passengers from all around the world to China. It is known as ‘the starfish’ because of its bright orange color and fancy shape.

Despite only one terminal, the airport provides various stores, restaurants, and entertainment for travelers. What is more, the airport officials plan on introducing pet hotels, child care, and business showrooms. The experts claim that by 2040 Beijing Daxing International Airport will become the busiest airport in the world.

7. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) – USA – 44.5 km2

The American George Bush Intercontinental Airport was opened in 1969, scheduling flights for travelers to five continents. Its name refers to the President of the United States, George H. W. Bush. However, it was initially called Houston Intercontinental Airport.

While visiting the IAH airport, you have to see ‘Light Spikes’ – an interesting sculpture created by Jay Baker after the 1990 G7 Summit. It is located outside the E Terminal and presents curvy columns in the colors of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Italy, Germany, Japan, and the European Union.

8. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) – China – 40 km2

Shanghai Pudong International Airport was established in 1999 and has scheduled travel for over 32 million passengers since then. It is the main hub for China Eastern Airlines and the major hub for Air China. The longest runway is 4 kilometers long, allowing accommodation of aircraft such as Boeing 747, Airbus A380, and Antonov An-225.

The PVG Airport makes use of the Airport Collaborative Decision Making system called A-CDM. It was introduced in 2017, and the primary purpose of this system is to improve the safety of the airport’s operations and ensure on-time performance. In the first year, the punctuality increased by 15%.

9. Cairo International Airport (CAI) – Egypt – 37 km2

Egyptian Cairo International Airport is considered the busiest airport in Africa in terms of passenger traffic. The airport’s four terminals aren’t connected, so in order to move from one terminal to another, you have to take a bus (shuttling once per hour) or a metro (leaving every 10 minutes).

Because Cairo International Airport is considered the principal port in Africa, the officials intend to invest in its development. Building plans include a business center called ‘Oasis Project’ and the ‘Aerocity’ – an entertainment park inspired by Disney World where families will be able to enjoy game courts, water parks, cinemas, and cafeterias.

10. Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) – Thailand – 32.4 km2

The Suvarnabhumi Airport, also called the Bangkok Airport, was built in 2006. This port, considered one of the biggest in Southeast Asia, provided transportation for over 66 million passengers. The name of the port was chosen by the late King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and it means ‘the golden land’.

However, the Suvarnabhumi Airport is well-known not only because of its size but also due to the numerous complaints it receives from customers. The grievance letters include issues such as an insufficient number of phone charging points, a lack of English-speaking staff, and information displays of low quality.

Busiest Airports in the World by Passenger Traffic

Busiest Airports in the World by Passenger Traffic

The Airports Council International measures the world’s busiest airports by means of passenger traffic. The traffic is defined as direct-transit passengers plus enplaned and deplaned travelers. The City of London with Heathrow Airport is proudly called the world’s busiest city airport system by passenger count.

* NAME OF AIRPORT COUNTRY PASSENGER TRAFFIC
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) USA 75.5M
2 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) USA 62.5M
3 Denver International Airport (DEN) USA 59M
4 O’Hare International Airport (ORD) USA 54M
5 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) USA 48M
6 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) USA 43M
7 Orlando International Airport (MCO) USA 40.3M
8 Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) China 40.2M
9 Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) China 40.1M
10 Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) USA 39M

1. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – USA – 75.5M

The American Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is considered the busiest airport in the world. In total, it served 75.5 million passengers. The port was awarded the title of the busiest international airport every year since 1998, except for 2020 (due to COVID-19).

2. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – USA – 62.5M

The Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, built in 1973 in the United States, was named the second-busiest airport by passenger traffic in 2021. Till today, 62.5 million passengers used the airport’s services.

3. Denver International Airport (DEN) – USA – 59M

The Denver International Airport is located in the Western United States and has been operating since 1995. At the port, over 35,000 airport employees allowed 59 million passengers to enjoy their travel.

4. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) – USA – 54M

The fourth busiest airport in the world is the O’Hare International Airport, also known as Chicago O’Hare Airport. The total area of the port is 31 km2. It is sometimes called ‘the busiest square mile’. It served around 54 million passengers.

5. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – USA – 48M

The Los Angeles International Airport is the major airport serving the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, and it is the closest port to the South Bay. It has been visited by 48 million passengers since 1928.

6. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) – USA – 43M

Located in North Carolina, USA, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport served 43 million passengers. It was named after the mayor of Charlotte, Ben Elbert Douglas, who finished the construction of the port.

7. Orlando International Airport (MCO) – USA – 40.3M

The Orlando International Airport, also known as the MCO Airport, is located in Florida, USA. It was named after the McCoy Air Force. This port is one of the busiest airports in the world, scoring 40.3 million in passenger traffic.

8. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) – China – 40.2M

In general, the Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in China is placed as the eighth airport in the world by passenger traffic. Built in 2004 on a total area of 15 km2, it served 40.2 million travelers.

9. Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport (CTU) – China – 40.1M

The Chinese Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport was built in 1938 in the capital of Sichuan province, and it serves as one of the two core hubs for Air China. It facilitated traveling for 40.1 million passengers from all around the world.

10. Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) – USA – 39M

The American airport, Harry Reid International Airport, is the central government airport for public use in the Las Vegas Valley. Over 39 million people visited this port during its operation.

Top 10 Busiest Airports in the World by Aircraft Movement

Top 10 Busiest Airports in the World by Aircraft Movement

Information about the international airports’ aircraft movement is measured by the Airports Council International, including both air transportation and general aviation in terms of arrivals and departures.

* NAME OF AIRPORT COUNTRY AIRCRAFT MOVEMENT
1 Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) USA 707,661
2 O’Hare International Airport (ORD) USA 684,201
3 Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) USA 651,895
4 Denver International Airport (DEN) USA 580,866
5 Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) USA 519,895
6 Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) USA 506,769
7 Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) USA 486,54
8 Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) USA 408,285
9 Miami International Airport (MIA) USA 387,973
10 George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) USA 378,562

 

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) – USA

The ATL Airport in Atlanta, USA, is the busiest airport in the world by means of aircraft movement. It schedules flights to countries on five different continents, and its total aircraft movement is 707,661.

2. O’Hare International Airport (ORD) – USA

The O’Hare International Airport is the second busiest airport in the world. On the area of the port’s 31 km2, the total movement of this iconic airport is measured to be 684,201.

3. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) – USA

The Dallas Fort Worth International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the United States. It was calculated that the port’s total movement oscillates around 651,895. It is also the second-busiest airport by passenger traffic worldwide.

4. Denver International Airport (DEN) – USA

The American Denver International Airport is the fourth world’s busiest airport. It provides service for tens of millions of passengers, while the total aircraft movement is calculated to be 580,866.

5. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) – USA

The fifth busiest port, the CLT Airport, serves 43 million travelers and presents the total aircraft movement of 519,895. Its name refers to Ben Elbert Douglas – the mayor of Charlotte.

6. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) – USA

The metropolitan area of Los Angeles benefits from the Los Angeles International Airport, also known as the LAX Airport. It was built in 1928, the result of its aircraft traffic movement being 506,769.

7. Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) – USA

The aircraft movement at the American Harry Reid International Airport was measured to be 486,540. Interestingly, it used to be called the McCarran Airport, referencing Pat McCarran, the United States Senator.

8. Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX) – USA

The PHX Airport, built in 1928, is considered the busiest airport in Arizona, USA. It is the hub for American Airlines and serves as the base for Southwest Airlines. Its aircraft movement oscillates around 408,285.

9. Miami International Airport (MIA) – USA

The Miami International Airport, or the MIA Airport, is the major port for the metropolitan area of Miami. It took ninth place in the busiest airports in the world ranking, and its aircraft movement is calculated to be 387,973.

10. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) – USA

Since 1969, the George Bush Intercontinental Airport facilitates travel to five continents for millions of passengers. It was named after George H. W. Bush, the President of the United States. It closes the ranking of the busiest airports in the world with 378,562 aircraft movement in total.

Top Dangerous Airports in the World

Top Dangerous Airports in the World

Many people are afraid of flying, so planning a trip abroad, they usually choose a train or a car. However, some places cannot be visited otherwise. Moreover, traveling by plane is fast and convenient. It is also considered one of the safest ways of traveling, granting the highest level of security.

The most dangerous airports in the world

The airport considered to be the most dangerous is Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Nepal. Sometimes it is called the deadliest airport in the world! It is usually visited by people who want to experience the adventure of climbing Mount Everest. There is only one extremely short runway for both the arrivals and the departures, and it steeply angles down towards a valley, making it difficult to land. It may only be accessed by small aircraft.

The Caribbean Princess Juliana Airport, located on Saint Martin island, is another dangerous port. While lying on the beach, the tourists can take impressive photos of the airplanes flying right above their heads! However, the aircraft may cause strong gusts of wind and dangerously powerful waves. In extreme cases, one can even be sucked into the plane’s turbine.

Another dangerous airport is the Barra Airport in Scotland. It was built on a sandy substrate near the beach, therefore, only specific weather conditions allow an aircraft to land. If the weather is bad with heavy rainfall or when the tide is high, the runway is fully submerged in water.

The safest airports in the world

If you are afraid of flying but would like to face your fear, try traveling to the safest airport in the world – the Zurich Airport in Switzerland. It was awarded the title of the World’s Best Airport for Passenger Security Screening in 2022 by the votes in World Airport Survey. The voting is conducted among the passengers, so the results are reliable and honest.

* NAME OF AIRPORT COUNTRY
1 Tenzing-Hillary Airport Nepal
2 Princess Juliana Airport Saint Martin Island
3 Barra Airport Scotland

The second and third place was taken by the Korean Incheon International Airport and Japanese Tokyo Haneda Airport. If you would like to try flying for the first time, choose one of these airports and enjoy your journey.

Infographic

Top Biggest Airports in the World - Infographic
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Dominika

Dominika takes care of all professional content published on Visafly.com. She simply loves creative work and writing texts has always been something she's been fond of. Nothing gives her more energy than working with people that match her vibe. In her free time, she enjoys good literature, vegan cuisine, and of course traveling ✈️🗺️😊

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