Picture this: You are on an aircraft and the captain on his radio goes like, “Passengers, prepare for landing”. What’s the first thought that comes to your mind? Put on the seat belt? Nope, although it should. Instead, we end up peeping outside that small, circular window of the plane, looking in anticipation of a city, of civilization, of the runway and of the airport where we are supposed to be landing. That sounds like a normal landing routine, from the passenger’s point of view right? What if there was no ‘runway’, no ‘airport’ and instead, grasslands on both sides? Yup, that’s the pre-1900’s airport for you. Perhaps, because of such a setting there were no ‘largest airports’ as such.
Keeping up with the changing times, here is a list of some of the largest airports in the world that have a runway.
9. O’Hare International Airport, Chicago (11.25 sq mi)
There’s a lot of history associated with the O’Hare International Airport. Once upon a time, it was the busiest airport in terms of passenger activity and takeoffs, however, today it can’t boast of either of the two accolades. One thing that the airport does have that other international airports don’t is eight runways. Perhaps that’s why it’s one of the largest airports in the world? American Airlines and United Airlines use this airport as their HUB. Another really noteworthy point about this airport is its consistency in terms of performance. For nearly ten years, it has been recognized as the best airport in North America.
8. Madrid-Barajas Airport (11.77 sq mi)
Claiming Madrid to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain would be no exaggeration. The airport in Madrid is one of the largest in the whole of Europe. It’s quite an old airport and it is one that has developed over the years, constantly adapting to the changing times. Airlines, Iberia uses this airport as their HUB, perhaps because they contribute nearly 60% to the total traffic that the airport faces. In recent years, the airport has grown considerably. It has fully utilised its size and in the year 2016, it was named as the busiest airport in Europe.
7. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok International Airport (12.50 sq mi)
Bangkok has two airports, the Suvarnabhumi Airport is the bigger of the two and started operations nearly a decade ago, making it a relatively new airport. It is the busiest airport in the country and one of the busiest airports in not only Asia, but the entire world. Crazy fact, in 2012, the airport was recognised as one of the most popular locations where Instagram pictures were taken. There are three major airlines that use this airport as their HUB which are: Thai Airways International, Orient Thai Airways and Bangkok Airways.
6. Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris ( 12.50 sq mi)
According to its location, the airport’s alternative name can be understood to be Roissy Airport, however it is more popularly known as the Charles De Gaulle Airport itself. It is the largest airport in France and the HUB to a couple of big airlines. Air France, Delta Air Lines and FedEx Express, being just a few. In terms of traffic; both cargo and aircraft movement, it is the second busiest airport in Europe, falling behind just the London Heathrow Airport.
5. Cairo International Airport (14 sq mi)
Egypt is a very popular tourist destination, as is known throughout the world and Cairo is the capital city of Egypt. If you connect the imaginary dots, you can understand exactly why the airport in Cairo is extremely important. Some of the biggest Egyptian airlines, such as EgyptAir and Nile Air use the Cairo International Airport as their HUB. The airport’s significant size is backed by activity. It is the second busiest airport in Africa, only behind the O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.
4. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (15.44 sq mi)
Shanghai has two airports. One catering to domestic flights, the other to international flights. The Shanghai Pudong International Airport, as the name suggests, is the latter of the two airports. Air China and Shanghai Airlines, are just two airlines that use this airport as their HUB. In the year 2012, DHL opened their HUB at this airport which is claimed to be the biggest in express HUB in all of Asia. The airport is continuously growing, with more expansion plans planned for its terminals. In terms of traffic, cargo traffic specifically, it ranks as the third busiest airport in the entire world.
3. Dallas Worth International Airport (29.8 sq mi)
One of the largest airports in the world in terms of area and one of the busiest airports in the world, the Dallas Worth International Airport has become a very important airport in the USA. American Airlines have their largest HUB at this airport, while Ameriflight and UPS Airlines are two other airlines that have their HUB at this airport. In short, the airport is also known as DFW. It has gotten it’s name due to its geographical position, located in between two major cities; Dallas and Fort Worth, respectively. Apart from being a really important HUB for airlines, DFW places high on passenger satisfaction as well. According to the American Council International, the airport was named as the best airport in terms of passenger satisfaction in North America.
2. Denver International Airport (52.4 sq mi)
The airport has a couple of accolades to its name. It’s the largest airport in the USA in terms of area and has the longest runway in the country as well, public runway. With reference to passenger traffic, it’s not one of the busiest in the USA, let alone the world. It is considered to be one of the best managed airports in the country. A couple of airlines have their HUB at the DIA, as it is also called. PenAir, Frontier Airlines and United Airlines being a few of them.
1. King Fahd International Airport (301.15 sq mi)
When you consider size in terms of land area, there’s no other airport in the world as big as the King Fahd International Airport. It’s absolutely huge. However, for an airport of such size, its commercial operations are less than justified. In fact, not until two decades ago, this airport was closed to commercial traffic. It still functions as a HUB for a couple of airlines, namely: Saudia and SaudiGulf Airlines.
Land area in general, is not a particularly important metric for an airport. The more engaging metrics involve how busy an airport is in terms of passenger traffic, cargo traffic, aircraft movement and so on. The area of land however, can sometimes give an indication about these metrics discussed above and nothing else.