Visual analytics of the modern world

Departure Allowed: The Largest Airport

The world's airports meet and see off millions of passengers every day. The airplane today is the fastest, most comfortable and safest transport. Major cities, unable to cope with the growing passenger traffic, are expanding existing airports or investing in the construction of new ones.

We present a rating of the largest airports in the world in terms of area and passenger traffic. We will also tell you about the major Russian air gateways.

Worldwide rankings

The size of an air harbor is a relative concept. Some experts believe that the area of an airport should be considered the main parameter, while others insist on the size of passenger traffic.

The number of passengers passing through a single air harbor can vary for a variety of reasons:

  • seasonality;
  • weather conditions;
  • the political situation, etc.

That is why it is customary to estimate the value of passenger traffic for aviation for the year, calculating the average figure. It is noteworthy that developed countries have laid in the design of any international airport passenger traffic equal to tens of millions of people per year. This suggests that civil aviation will develop at an active pace.


Summary table of airport cargo statistics from Airport Council International

Statistics on the capacity of air gates of the world, the area occupied, progress reports and construction of new airports are handled by Airport Council International. They chose the largest airport in the world for 2019.

By area

Airports began to appear in the twentieth century in Europe. Today they are large complexes to serve air traffic. The following facilities are located in the area:

  • runways, taxiways;
  • passenger terminals;
  • cargo terminals;
  • places for mooring and refueling of ships, and so on.

Even local airports occupy a large area. To take off and land aircraft with a wingspan of 15-24 meters requires a runway that exceeds a kilometer. Let's look at the 10 airports in the world that are the largest by area.

Title Code Country City Area, km2
King Khalid RUH Saudi Arabia Riyadh 776
Denver Airport DEN USA Denver 137,27
Fort Worth/Dallas DFW USA Dallas 69,7
Pudong PVG China Shanghai 33,5
Roissy - Charles de Gaulle CDG France Paris 32
Madrid-Barajas A. Suarez MAD Spain Madrid 30
Suvarnabhumi BKK Thailand Bangkok 29,8
O'Hare Airport ORD USA Chicago 26
Cairo International Airport CAI Egypt Cairo 25,5
Shawdue PEK China Beijing 23,3

The largest air harbor in terms of area was opened in 1983. Its size is related to the fact that the airfield was the base for the emergency landing of the American space shuttle reusable. Today the project is closed.

Saudi Arabia

View of the Riyadh airport building from the airfield

The most important parameter for evaluating the city's air gateway is passenger traffic. Statistics are calculated annually, taking into account departures, arrivals and those who arrived in transit.

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In terms of passenger traffic

Today 2 million people a year is not considered significant, but 10 years ago this figure seemed enormous for the workers of large ports.

Let's look at the busiest airports by region. Below are the top 10 busiest airports in the world for 2019.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL)

Year after year, the airport is the leader among the world's airports in the number of received, sent, transit passengers. Opened in 1926 in Georgia, today it has its own subway station.


A bird's eye view of Hartsfield-Jackson

The airport terminal is equipped with 196 exits, with over 104 million people passing through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta in a year, and it is by far the largest airport in the world.

Shawdue (PEK)

China's second largest air port has three runways and is located in the northeast of the capital, Beijing. The airport consists of three terminals.

Passenger traffic increased dramatically in 2008 and has now exceeded 90 million people a year.


There are 1,100 flights a day from Shawdue Airport

Dubai (DXB)

The international airport is located in Dubai, opened in 1960, but upgraded in 2001. 7 years later, the capacity of the hub has increased by 10 times. It has two runways, three terminals with high service class.

In 2018, the number of passengers rose to 90 million.


Dubai International Airport Terminal

Tokyo Haneda (HND)

The number of air travel in Japan is growing, and passenger traffic is also increasing. While Haneda serves mainly domestic flights, the workload could be the envy of any international port in the CIS. It has four runways.

Annual passenger traffic by early 2019 was 86 million.


The main purpose of the airport - domestic flights to and from Tokyo

Los Angeles (LAX)

Four modern runways allow the main air hub in California to serve tens of millions of flights a year. 9 terminals operate for passenger comfort. Flights are operated to Pacific islands, U.S. cities, Latin America, Europe and Asia.


Los Angeles airport lights come on as darkness falls

Annual passenger traffic reached 85 million people.

O'Hare Chicago (ORD)

One of the largest hubs in the U.S. was opened in 1944. Americans call it the most comfortable and convenient. Chicago Air Port receives flights from 60 countries and is the base for United Airlines. Uninterrupted 24-hour operation is possible with 6 runways and 5 terminals.

The number of passengers carried exceeded 80 million.


Chicago airport was built during World War II

Heathrow (LHR)

London Heathrow is the busiest in Europe, with flights from Asia to the Atlantic and cargo through it. It is equipped with 5 convenient terminals, two runways. 90 airlines from around the world are served here. Of all the flights, only 11% are domestic flights.

It is designed to serve 45 million passengers a year, but in 2018 this figure reached 78169000.

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Hong Kong (HKG)

It has an unofficial name of Cheklapkok, it embodies the name of the island on which the hub is built. Hong Kong airport is the leader in the number of cargo flights serviced, operates around the clock. It has two runways, two passenger terminals. There is a business aviation center on the territory of the port.

Capacity to date has shown that 73 million passengers carried is not the limit.

Hong Kong

View of the island where the air gate of Hong Kong is located

Pudong (PVG)

Shanghai Pudong is the newest air harbor on the shores of the East China Sea. Three runways and two terminals were opened in 1999. The runways were built to accommodate large-capacity aircraft in the future. China is experiencing rapid growth in passenger and cargo traffic.


Pudong Airport is famous for its developed infrastructure

In 2018, 70 million passengers were served.

Charles de Gaulle (CDG)

Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is also close to 70 million passengers, second only to the air hub in Frankfurt in terms of the amount of cargo handled annually. It is the main hub for the national carrier Air France. It has four runways, two of which are over 4,000 meters long.

The number of citizens served from around the world reached 69.5 million.


Bloomberg's 2017 statistics for the busiest hubs will help compare performance

Top 5 in Russia

Air travel in Russia is actively developing despite the presence of obvious problems. We present a rating of the largest air hubs in Russia at the beginning of 2019. The indicators are shown in the table below. From the information provided, you can find out which airport in Moscow is the largest.

Sheremetyevo (SVO)

Sheremetyevo is the largest air hub in Moscow and Russia as a whole. It ranks first in two parameters at once. Passenger traffic increased by 15.6% last year. It connects the capital with North America, Asia, and North Africa.


Terminal D was opened in 2009

It is located in the Khimki district of Moscow, has a developed infrastructure, is connected to the capital by bus routes and aeroexpress train, which moves without stops. There are 6 terminals, 2 runways, one more is under construction.

It bears the name of the Russian poet Alexander Pushkin.


The main air gateway of the Northern Capital, St. Petersburg. The base hub for Rossiya Airlines. It is equipped with two modern runways, has been renovated and a new passenger terminal built. Over the past 10 years, the annual passenger flow has doubled.

St. Petersburg

For the unusual design of the airport terminal residents of St. Petersburg dubbed Pulkovo "five glasses


Equipped with three passenger terminals, "Vnukovo" is one of the three most used in Russia. 80% of passenger traffic is provided by the basic airlines for the port:

  • "Victory;
  • "UTair;
  • "Russia.

Connected to the capital by a separate rail route, from here there are flights to Europe, Latin America, and Asian countries.


In 2015, scenes from the new Russian film "The Crew" were filmed here


The list would not be complete without the third hub in the capital, located 45 kilometers from Moscow. It is equipped with two runways located far apart, allowing for simultaneous takeoff and landing, which is unavailable to aircraft served at the other three capital airports.

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There is one passenger terminal, with an area of 135,000 sq. m.2The status of international was obtained in 1992, before that domestic flights were served.


View of Domodedovo Airport


Koltsovo Airport in Yekaterinburg is one of the oldest airports in Russia, now modernized. Passenger traffic in 2018 increased by 13%. Connected to downtown Yekaterinburg by a rail line. It has two modern runways and is capable of receiving all types of aircraft except the double-deck Airbus A380.


The appearance of the main air gates of Yekaterinburg

Connects the heart of Siberia with European, Asian and Russian cities. Below is a comparative table of facilities.

Port name Area, km2 Passenger traffic for 2018, million people
Sheremetyevo 480 45,84
Pulkovo 450 18,12
Vnukovo 270 21,48
Domodedovo 135 29,4
Koltsovo 80 6,103

It is noteworthy that the Airport Council International recognized the best hub in Europe Airport Sochi (AER).

The largest in Europe

The largest airport in Europe by area is the Charles de Gaulle hub in Paris, mentioned earlier. It is noteworthy that the futuristic design of the terminal caught the eye of Alexander Mitte, the director of the Soviet movie "The Crew", and a number of scenes were filmed here.

Equipped with two train stations, bus lines that connect the air gate to the center of Paris.


The largest airport in Europe and France has an unusual design

Largest airports in the U.S.

Air travel between U.S. cities is well developed. Passenger traffic of one city can exceed the statistics of an entire country in Eastern Europe. Small aviation is well developed. Consider the 3 largest ports in terms of area.


The largest airport in the U.S. is located in the city of the same name in Colorado. It was opened relatively recently, in 1995. It has a concrete runway for landings and takeoffs of record length - 4877 meters. It is considered one of the most functional in the world. Among the locals about the size of the airport legends. It is believed that under it there are secret bunkers.


The size of the Denver airport, the construction of the runway in the shape of a swastika, the abundance of unusual paintings and sculptures make it not only the largest in the United States, but also the strangest


The main air gateway for the state of Texas, with five terminals and a cargo port. Six runways of different sizes provide the functionality and can be expanded to 13 terminals. Air Cargo World called Dallas the best airport in the world.


Among the 20 busiest ports in the world


Chicago Air Harbor was considered the busiest port in the world until 2005. This situation increased the number of flight delays to all destinations, so the state government insisted on reducing flights.


  1. Airports are rated by both size of area and congestion. The largest airport by area is located in the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh and is named after King Khalid. The busiest is Hartsfield-Jackson in the American city of Atlanta, with over 1040000 passengers a year passing through it.
  2. The largest airport in Russia is Sheremetyevo, which is also the busiest. The five largest hubs in the country include three of the capital's hubs.
  3. The largest air port in Europe is the Charles de Gaulle hub in Paris.
  4. In the U.S., the top spot for early 2019 belongs to the Port of Denver, Colorado.

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