Airports are fundamental to modern day travel, offering the opportunity for passengers and trade alike to enter far away destinations in a relatively short space of time. The immense logistics that air travel requires means that airports are made up of multiple terminals, building, runways and landing areas, and this often means taking up a huge amount of space. However, some are considerably bigger than others. Take a look below at the world’s 15 largest airports, listed in descending order by surface area. How many of these airports have you visited?
1 – King Fahd International Airport – Dammam, Saudi Arabia (77,600 hectares)
By far the world’s largest airport, King Fahd International Airport is situated in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and is nearly 6 times the size of the next biggest airport (Denver International Airport, USA). It is so large, in fact, that it has a greater surface area than its neighbouring country, Bahrain. The airport has multiple designated terminals, including a huge 177,000 square foot dedicated to the royal terminal, specially reserved for members of the royal family, senior government officials and other foreign officials. It also has a mosque built directly on top of the gigantic carpark, which is iconic in aerial photographs of the airport.
2 – Denver International Airport – Denver, USA (13,571 hectares)
The second largest airport in the world is Denver International Airport, making it the largest airport in the USA. It boasts awards for the Best Run Airport from TIME magazine, alongside the longest public use runway in the US.
3 – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – Dallas, USA (6,963 hectares)
Following on from Denver, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport takes the place as the third largest airport in the world, and the second largest in the USA. However, taking up 6,963 hectares of space, it is just over half the size of Denver International airport, truly highlighting the size of both Denver International Airport and King Fahd International Airport at the top two spots. Dallas/Fort Worth is known as one of the busiest airports in the world
4 – Orlando International Airport – Orlando, USA (5,383 hectares)
Another hugely busy airport is Orlando International, holding the title for the busiest airport in Florida and a strong contender for the busiest airport in the USA. It primarily serves the Orlando district in central Florida, which attracts a huge amount of visitors every year, thanks to it’s famous theme parks.
5 – Washington Dulles International Airport – Washington, D.C., USA (4,856 hectares)
Named after the Secretary of State under President Eisenhower, John Foster Dulles, this sizable airport is situated in Virginia, but serves the area around Washington D.C. It is home to 135 gates and flies to over 100 destinations.
6 – George Bush Intercontinental Airport – Houston, USA (4,451 hectares)
Another airport in Houston, Texas is the George bush Intercontinental Airport. Settling at 3 spots below its counterpart, Dallas/Fort Worth, its impressive 4,451 hectares serves the greater metropolitan area of Houston and was renamed after President George. W. Bush. It is the 47th busiest airport in the world, and the 14th busiest in the United States.
7 – Shanghai Pudong International Airport – Shanghai, China (3,988 hectares)
One of two main airports in Shanghai and a fundamental part of the East Asian aviation hub, the Shanghai Pudong International Airport covers 3,988 hectares. It is the main hub for China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines.
8 – Cairo International Airport – Cairo, Egypt (3,625 hectares)
Cairo International Airport is the busiest airport in Egypt and the main aviation hub for EgyptAir, EgyptAir Express and Nile Air, as well as several other airlines. It is the second busiest airport in Africa, beaten only by South Africa’s main airport in Johannesburg.
9 – Suvarnabhumi Airport – Bangkok, Thailand (3,240 hectares)
This airport is one of the largest in South-East Asia and the 17th busiest airport in the world. It handled a huge 60 million passengers in 2017 and has proved as a hugely popular place for people to take and upload pictures to social media. It is the main hub for Thai Airways International, Thai Smile Airways, and Bangkok Airlines.
10 – Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport – Paris, France (3,237 hectares)
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport is also known as Roissy Airport . It is the largest international airport in France and Europe, and the second busiest airport in Europe. It’s located to the north-east of Paris and is named after a previous President of France, Charles de Gaulle.
11 – Madrid-Barajas Airport – Madrid, Spain (3,050 hectares)
Just behind the Charles de Gaulle Airport in France, Madrid Barajas Airport is the second largest airport in Europe and serves the areas surrounding the Spanish capital. In 2018, 57.9 million passengers used the airport, making it the busiest airport in Spain, and Europe’s sixth busiest.
12 – O’Hare International Airport – Chicago, USA (2,913 hectares)
The O’Hare International Airport is located to the North-west of Chicago, Illinois and has non-stop flights to 228 destinations around the world. It is unusual in the fact that it serves more than one of the three major international airlines, being home to both United Airlines and American Airlines. Since its opening in 1944 it has seen some modernisations in recent years, particularly to the airfield.
13 – Salt Lake City International Airport – Salt Lake City, USA (2,830 hectares)
Salt Lake City International Airport in Utah is the closest commercial airport for more than 2.5 million people and provides a smooth 30-minute driving distance to over 1.3 million jobs. It’s a major gateway to the Intermountain West region of the United States and has just under 400 airline departures each day.
14 – Amsterdam Airport Schiphol – Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2,787 hectares)
Commonly referred to as Schiphol airport, this airport is the primary International airport for The Netherlands located around 9 kilometres south-west of Amsterdam. It’s an extremely busy airport, taking the title of the 3rd busiest airport in Europe in terms of the amount of passengers using it each year. In 2017, a huge total of 68.5 million passengers travelled through the airport. Unusually, it only has one singular terminal, but it is separated into 3 separate departure halls.
15 – Frankfurt Airport – Frankfurt, Germany (2,300 hectares)
With 4 runways and 2 passenger terminals,this major international airport in Germany has the capacity to be used by 65 million passengers per year. It is the fourth busiest airport in Europe, in terms of passenger traffic. It is a hub for Lufthansa and associated airlines, along with Condor and AeroLogic.