TOP 10: The largest airports in the world

TOP 10: The largest airports in the world
11 min read
17 February 2020

Airports are not only terminals for people and goods, but also the gates to the world. Millions of passengers are handled every year at the superlative airports and millions of tons of goods are transported. We have researched the largest airports in the world for you.

After four years of construction, a new Giga airport recently celebrated its opening. Just in time for the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, the operation of Beijing Daxing Airport started. It is located 67 km from the city center south of the Chinese capital. The airport is expected to handle 45 million passengers per year. According to the operator, it is designed for 100 million passengers and 4 million tonnes of cargo. It is even supposed to compete for the first place in our leaderboard. In addition to the new superlative airport, Beijing also hosts another candidate, which is found in the TOP 3 of this list. 

10. Charles-de-Gaulle Aéroport (Paris, France)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldCharles de Gaulle Airport (IATA code: CDG) is located 26 km northeast of the French capital and opened on 8 March 1974. In 2018, 72,229,723 million passengers and an air cargo of 2.15 million tonnes were transported by just under half a million flight movements to around 200 global destinations. This is not only the 10th place in the ranking, but also the second place in Europe's largest airports. It was named after Charles de Gaulle, former President of the Republic. The site comprises 3 terminals and 4 runways covering an area of 3,500 hectares. With over 75,500 employees and over 600 companies, the passenger airport is one of the most important business locations in the metropolitan area of Paris (Île-de-France).

9. Shanghai PuDong International Airport (Shanghai, China)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldShanghai Pudong International Airport (IATA Code: PVG), which is located in the east of the Chinese metropolis, is ranked 9th in the ranking. The airport is considered one of China's most important hubs thanks to 250 domestic and international connections. Last year (as of 2018), 74,006,331 passengers and 3.8 million tonnes of cargo were transported. It is equipped with 2 terminals and a total of 4 runways and thus covers a total area of 4,000 ha. It was opened on the 50th anniversary of the Chinese People's Republic, October 1, 1999, and currently employs around 22,000 people. In September of this year, the airport was expanded by a satellite terminal, which is divided into two areas. This is intended to cope with a higher number of passengers in the future.

8. Hong Kong International Airport (Hong Kong, China)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the world

The international airport in Hong Kong (IATA code: HKG) brought 74,672,000 passengers to 150 different destinations in the world last year (2018), taking 8th place. But that's not all, because the air transport centre is also the largest cargo airport in the world. Last year (2018), a gigantic air cargo of 5.12 million tons was transported across this hub. On an area of 1,255 hectares, there are 2 terminals and 2 runways — another one has been under construction since August 2016. Currently 73,000 employees are employed at Hong Kong International Airport. After seven years of construction, the airport opened its doors on 6 July 1998 by the Airport Authority Hong Kong. It is also known as Chek Lap Kok Airport, as it is located on the island of the same name in the southwest of the metropolis.

7. London Heathrow Airport (London, United Kingdom)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldEurope's largest airport is located 24 km west of London and thus occupies 7th place in the ranking. With 80,124,537 passengers carried and 1,685,137 tonnes of cargo last year (2018), London Heathrow Airport (IATA code: LHR) earned this place. About 100 airlines transported goods and passengers to about 380 destinations in more than 120 countries. On an area of 1,227 ha there are 2 runways, which are currently accessible via 4 terminals. One of the largest baggage systems in the world ensures that up to 12,000 bags per hour can be handled at one of the terminals. As a pilot project, a Personal Rapid Transit System (PRT) was opened at this site in autumn 2009. Another runway is planned for 2025, which will increase passenger traffic to 130 million.

6. Chicago O'Hare International Airport (Chicago, USA)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the world25 km northwest of Chicago is the sixth largest airport in the world, Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA code: ORD). Last year (2018) alone, it was a hub for 83,245,472 passengers to more than 200 destinations around the world, handling a total of 1,862,353 tonnes of air cargo. With 4 terminals and a total of 8 runways, it occupies a total area of 2,914 h. Already in 1955, the airport, which previously served as a military airport from 1942, was opened for commercial use. The international airport code ORD is based on the fact that the place where the airport was built was still called Orchard Field at that time.

5. Tokyo International Haneda Airport (Tokyo, Japan)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldAccording to Japanese law, Tokyo International Haneda Airport (IATA code: HND), located 15 km south of the Japanese metropolis, is considered to be the first class airport. With 87,131,973 passengers (as of 2018) and 1,274,391 tonnes of air cargo (as of 2017), the air transport point is not only the fifth largest airport in the world, but also Asia's third largest airport. Three terminals, two of which are interconnected underground, and 4 runways allow passengers to reach 80 national and international destinations. The area of the airport covers a total area of 1,271 hectares. The airport has a long history, since it was opened on 25 August 1931. Since 2014, Haneda Airport, together with eleven other airports, has achieved one of the highest awards in the aviation industry every year: the “5-Star Airport” seal of approval, which is awarded by the British company Skytrax.

4. Los Angeles International Airport (Los Angeles, USA)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldLos Angeles International Airport (IATA code: LAX) is the second largest airport in the United States and fourth in the ranking of the largest airports in the world. It is located 24 km southwest of California's metropolis and recorded 87,534,384 passengers last year (2018). In addition, 2,219,098 tonnes of goods were transported by air during the same period. Currently, the airport of the superlative 172 destinations worldwide serves more than 59 different passenger airlines. There are a total of 9 terminals and 4 runways on the 1,386 hectares. The airport currently employs around 50,000 people. The history of the international airport goes back to the end of the 1920s. At that time, the area still used for agriculture was designated as an aerodrome. In the early days, only one unpaved runway existed, which was mainly used for military purposes. In 1937 the land was bought by the city and on December 5, 1946 the first commercial passenger aircraft landed at Los Angeles International Airport.

3. Dubai International Airport (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldAbout 5 kilometres southeast of Dubai is the most important airport in the Middle East. Last year (2018), Dubai International Airport (IATA code: DXB) brought 89,149,387 passengers and 2,641,383 tonnes of air cargo to their destination. Their destinations are located in more than 270 destinations around the world and are served by around 140 airlines. The iron birds start and land on two parallel lanes and are handled at 3 terminals. The government airline, the Royal Air Wing, also has its own terminal. Around 90,000 employees work on a total area of around 1,400 ha. Travellers can shop duty-free goods in one of the world's largest duty-free shops. Dubai World Central Airport (IATA code: DWC) was opened in June 2010, about 45 kilometers further southwest. This airport, which even has a 91 metre high control tower with a meteor observation station, will become the largest airport in the world after its completion in 2020—2025.

2. Beijing Capital International Airport (Beijing, China)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldAsia's largest airport is located 29 kilometers northeast of Beijing. In 2018, China's huge aviation center transported 100,983,290 passengers and 2,074,005 tons of cargo to 150 destinations. Every day, airplanes depart and land from three tarmac and are handled at the same number of terminals. Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK), with a total area of only 961 hectares, is still the second largest airport in the world. This placement is almost entirely attributable to the 2008 Olympic Games, as this event brought international Terminal 3 into operation in February 2008, along with a third runway. This is also a 1.3 million square metre construction made of steel and glass. Designed by the British architect of the Berlin Reichstag dome and London's Millennium Bridge, Norman Foster, it holds the record of the longest building in the world at 3,250 metres. Another highlight of the building is the $240 million luggage system. It will handle 19,200 pieces of luggage per hour so that the passenger can pick up his suitcase within 4.5 minutes of landing.

1. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (Atlanta, USA)

TOP 10: The largest airports in the worldHartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (IATA Code: ATL) is the number one airport that has the largest number of passengers in the world. For 107,394,029 passengers, the airport was the gateway to 225 destinations in 50 countries in 2018. It also formed a transhipment point for goods weighing 693,790 tons. 12 km south of Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia, and 1,922 hectares there are 5 runways, 2 terminals and 7 departure halls. With more than 63,000 employees, the airport is Georgia's largest employer. In the past, the current airport site was a racetrack and about 116 hectares in size. In April 1925, the then mayor of Atlanta, Walter Sims, signed a five-year lease for the Candler Field, named after the former owner, Coca-Cola founder and former mayor Asa Griggs Candler. On 20 October 2003, Atlanta City Council gave the airport its current name in honor of former Mayor Maynard Jackson, who died that year. At the same time as the fifth runway was completed, the highest control tower in the United States of America (121 m) was commissioned.

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