The biggest airport in the world: 10 largest airfields of all time

The biggest airport in the world: 10 largest airfields of all time

Which is the biggest airport in the world? Countries have invested heavily in transport infrastructure, and airfields have taken a colossal chunk. As a result, many airfields have developed, making international travel and cargo transportation easy.

Biggest airport in the world
Photo: pexels.com, @marinahinic
Source: UGC

The largest airport in the world is not necessarily the busiest but the one with the most land coverage. The biggest airports cover several square kilometres of land, have multiple runways, and can accommodate hundreds of aeroplanes at a time.

What is the largest airport in the world?

What is the biggest airport in the world? There are numerous airfields with different sizes and capacities of operation. Here are the top 10 contenders for the largest airport in the world by size.

10. Suvarnabhumi Airport — 32.4 km²

Biggest airport in the world
Suwannabhumi Airfield at night. Photo: Krisanapong Detraphiphat
Source: Getty Images

This airfield is sometimes referred to, unofficially, as Bangkok Airport, and it is one of the biggest airfields in Thailand and the world, covering approximately 32.4 square kilometres. It is situated in Racha Thewa, Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan province, and it began operating on 28 September 2006.

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King Bhumibol the Great chose the name of the airfield Suvarnabhumi, meaning the Golden Land. Murphy/Jahn Architects designed it to handle 76 flight operations per hour.

9. Cairo International Airport — 37 km²

Largest airports in the world
An aerial view of Egypt Air, at the gates at Cairo International Airfield. Photo: Amir Makar
Source: Getty Images

It was formerly known as King Farouk 1st Airport, located northeast of Cairo in Heliopolis. It sits on approximately 37 square kilometres of land and has been operational since 18 March 1963, when former president Gamal AbdElnaser opened the first terminal.

It was designed to handle approximately 1200 passengers every hour and is well connected to a good road network to facilitate easy movement. Some of the best facilities for use in the airfield are luxury restaurants, car rentals, banking, and disabled traveller facilities.

8. Shanghai Pudong International Airport — 40 km²

What is the biggest airport in the world?
Shanghai Pudong International Airfield China - East Asia. Photo: zyxeos30
Source: Getty Images

It is one of the two international airfields in Shanghai, handling 60 per cent of the flights in the city, while Hongqiao International Airport handles 40 per cent. It is located 30 kilometres east of Shanghai city and covers an area of 40 square kilometres. The airfield, with four runways, is considered the third busiest in the world in cargo traffic, handling more than 3.9 million tonnes of cargo annually.

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7. George Bush Intercontinental Airport — 40 km²

World's biggest airport
United Airlines jet bridges sit empty at George Bush Intercontinental Airfield. Photo: Justin Sullivan
Source: Getty Images

The airfield is located in Houston, Texas and covers an area of about 40 square kilometres and was opened by former US president George W. Bush on 8 June 1968. It was formerly known as Houston Intercontinental Airport.

It is one of the busiest airports in the United States and ranked 15th busiest in the world, handling more than 33 million passengers annually. The airfield has five runways, five terminals, and several facilities.

6. Beijing Daxing International Airport — 47 km²

What is the largest airport in the world?
Aerial view of Beijing daxing international airfield construction site. Photo: Waitforlight
Source: Getty Images

Designed by a team of architects from ADP Ingeniérie and Zaha Hadid, it’s shape resembles a starfish. It is located on the Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province border and covers 47 square kilometres. The airfield, which boasts four civilian runways and one military runway, commenced its operations on 25 September 2019.

In 2022, it handled more than 52 million passengers, over 185 thousand tonnes of cargo, and more than 200 thousand flight movements. It has won multiple awards, such as the Society of British International Interior Design (SBID) International Design Awards 2021 and the award for the airfield with the best hygiene measures.

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5. Washington Dulles International Airport — 52.6 km²

Biggest airport in the world
Wide view showing the tower and main terminal of Dulles International Airfield in Chantilly, Virginia. Photo: Interim Archives
Source: Getty Images

Also known as Dulles International Airport, it is one of the world's biggest airports, and it covers about 52.6 square kilometres of land and is located in Virginia, USA. The fifth biggest airfield in the world was named after former US secretary of state John Foster Dulles, and it began its operations on 17 November 1962.

The airfield, which has four runways, can handle more than 21 million passengers, over 226 thousand tonnes of cargo, and thousands of aircrafts, annually.

4. Orlando International Airport — 69 km²

Largest airports in the world
Airliners wait for takeoff in a queue at runways 36L and 36R at Orlando International Airfield. Photo: Orlando Sentinel
Source: UGC

Situated in Florida, USA, Orlando International Airport is one of the biggest airports in the US covering an area of about 69 square kilometres. The airfield, formerly known as McCoy Air Force Base, is one of the busiest in the world, and in 2022, it handled over 50 million passengers, 245 thousand tonnes of cargo, and more than 353 thousand flight operations. Orlando International Airport has four runways.

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3. Dallas Fort Worth International Airport — 69 km²

Largest airports in the world
American Airlines airplanes parked at their gates on a foggy day at DFW International Airfield. Photo: HUM Images
Source: Getty Images

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, shortened as DFW Airport, is in Dallas, Texas, USA. Its land coverage is approximately 69 square kilometres, and is the second-largest airfield in the United States. It opened on 23 September 1973 and currently can handle more than 73 million passengers, over 1 million tonnes of cargo, and more than 656 thousand flight operations annually.

It has seven runways and was considered the third busiest in the world by aircraft movement and the fourth busiest by passenger traffic in 2021.

2. Denver International Airport — 135 km²

Biggest airport in the US
Denver International Airfield at Dusk. Photo: John Madere
Source: Getty Images

Denver International Airport, also known as DIA, is the biggest in the US, covering an area of about 135 square kilometres in Denver, Colorado. It commenced operations on 25 February 1995 and is the second largest in the world and features among the ten busiest airports worldwide.

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In 2022, it handled more than 69 million passengers, about 300 thousand tonnes of cargo, and more than 615 thousand flight operations. Currently, it has six runways but is capable of handling 12 runways.

1. King Fahd International Airport — 776 km²

World's biggest airport
Royal Airplane sits on the runway at the King Khalid International airfield. Photo: MJ Kim
Source: Getty Images

King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia is the biggest airport in the world, covering 776 square kilometres of land. The airfield, also known as Dammam International Airport, was named after the former king of Saudi Arabia, Fahd bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and opened on 28 November 1999.

Despite being the biggest in the world, it is not the busiest, and in 2016, it handled about 9 million passengers, about 138 thousand tonnes of cargo, and approximately 90 thousand flight movements.

FAQs

  1. Where is the world's smallest airfield? Juancho Yrausquin Airport in Hell's Gate, Caribbean Netherlands, is the smallest.
  2. Is London Heathrow the biggest airfield in the world? It is the busiest in Europe but not in the world.
  3. What are the three busiest airfields in the world? The three busiest airfields worldwide are Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Dubai International Airport, and Tokyo International Airport.
  4. Which is India’s biggest airfield? Indira Gandhi International Airport is the biggest in India.
  5. Which is the largest airfield in the UK? London Heathrow Airport is the largest in Europe, with an estimated area of 12.2 square kilometres.
  6. Is Dubai airport bigger than Heathrow? Yes, it is 29 square kilometres, while Heathrow is 12.2 square kilometres.
  7. Where is the largest airfield in Pakistan? Islamabad International Airport is located in Fateh Jang, Punjab, Pakistan, and is the largest in the country.
  8. Which airport has the most runways? Chicago O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, USA, has eight runways.

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Airports facilitate the transportation of passengers and cargo across different countries and nations have invested heavily in constructing their airfields. Currently, King Fahd International Airport in Saudi Arabia takes the crown as the biggest airport in the world by land area.

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