Think getting lost in an airport is a hassle? Try getting lost in the largest airports in the world. Check out the 15 largest airports in the world based on surface area. Make sure to jot down these airports for future reference, especially if you love to travel.
15. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is the main international airport in the Netherlands. It is the third busiest airport in Europe in terms of passenger traffic, serving over 63 million passengers in 2016. It is notable for housing only a single large terminal which splits into three departure halls.
Located southwest of Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol was originally a military base when it opened in 1916. It was destroyed during World War II but was quickly rebuilt and was eventually recognized as the main airport in the Netherlands in 1949. The airport covers 2,787 hectares of land and includes six runways with asphalt surfaces.
14. Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport is the main international airport in Dubai and regularly ranks as one of the busiest airports in the world. It ranks third in the list of the busiest airports in the world based on passenger traffic but first in terms of international passenger traffic. In 2016, the airport served over 83 million passengers.
Dubai International Airport contributes over $26 billion to the Dubai economy. Analysts say that number would balloon to almost $90 billion by 2030. The airport covers 2,900 hectares of land and includes two runways and three terminals.
13. Leonardo da Vinci International Airport
Leonardo da Vinci International Airport is one of the largest international airports in Italy. It is located in Fiumicino, Rome and is often referred to as simply Fiumicino Airport. With over 41 million passengers served, the airport ranked tenth in the list of the busiest airports in Europe in 2016.
Obviously named after the great Leonardo da Vinci, the international airport serves as the home base of Alitalia and Vueling. It includes four asphalt runways and covers around 2,900 hectares of land, basically tying it with Dubai International Airport in our list of the largest airports in the world.
12. Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport
Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport is the second largest international airport in Europe right behind Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Opened in 1928, the airport is located in Madrid, Spain and is about 13 kilometers away from Plaza Mayor de Madrid.
Serving as the home base of Iberia Airlines, Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport is the sixth busiest international airport in Europe with 50 million passengers served in 2016. It edged out Barcelona El Prat Airport by about six million. Named after former Spanish Prime Minister Adolfo Suarez, the international airport has four runways spread out over 3,050 hectares of land.
11. Chicago O’Hare International Airport
Chicago O’Hare International Airport is one of the two major international airports located in Chicago, Illinois – the other one would be Midway International Airport. It is the sixth-ranked busiest airport in the world based on passenger traffic in 2016.
In 2014, it overtook the famed Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport for the most number of takeoffs and landings, and then coughed up the title a year later. The airport sits 27 kilometers northwest of the Chicago Loop or the central business district. It has eight runways made of asphalt and concrete and covers 3,087 hectares of land.
10. Salt Lake City International Airport
Salt Lake City International Airport may not be one of the busiest international airports in the world, serving “only” 23 million passengers in 2016. But in terms of surface area, it is definitely one of the largest in the world. The airport covers approximately 3,116 hectares of land.
Located 6.4 kilometers away from Downtown Salt Lake City, the international airport features three asphalt runways, one concrete runway, and three asphalt helipads. It also doubles as a military airport, with the Utah Air National Guard occupying the Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base located on the east side of the airport.
9. Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport
Named after former French President Charles de Gaulle, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport is the largest and primary international airport in France. It is the main hub of Air France, one of the largest European airlines. The airport covers about 3,200 hectares of land and features three terminals and four asphalt runways.
In 2016, Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport ranked second in the list of the busiest airports in Europe, just behind Heathrow Airport in London. It served almost 66 million passengers last year, which is almost identical to the number of passengers the airport served in 2015. In terms of international passenger traffic, the airport ranked fifth in 2016.
8. Suvarnabhumi Airport
Commonly known as Bangkok International Airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport is one of the largest international airports in Southeast Asia. In fact, the airport is just one of two Southeast Asian international airports to make it to this list. It serves as the main hub for several notable Asian airlines, including Bangkok Airways and Jet Asia Airways.
Covering 3,240 hectares of land, Suvarnabhumi Airport is known for having one of the tallest control towers and one of the largest single-building terminals in the world. It is the ninth busiest international airport in Asia, serving almost 56 million passengers in 2016. The name of the airport translates to “Land of Gold” or “Golden Land.”
7. Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport is the busiest airport in Egypt and the second busiest airport in Africa. It served as a US base during World War II before it was turned into an international airport. It is located in Heliopolis, serving as the main hub for EgyptAir and Nile Air, two of the largest airlines in Egypt.
Cairo International Airport is one of the largest airports in the world, though it isn’t one of the busiest in terms of international passenger traffic. The airport has three terminals and three asphalt runways spread out over 3,700 hectares of land.
6. Shanghai Pudong International Airport
Located 30 kilometers away from the Shanghai city center, Shanghai Pudong International Airport is one of the two international airports in Shanghai. It is the main hub for most international flights and serves as a home base for China Eastern Airlines and Shanghai Airlines.
Shanghai Pudong International Airport is the fifth busiest international airport in Asia and the ninth busiest in terms of overall passenger traffic. It served 66 million passengers in 2016. In terms of cargo traffic, it ranks third in the world, handling about 3,440,279.70 tons of cargo in 2016. The airport covers 4,000 hectares of land and includes two terminals and five concrete runways.
5. Kansas City International Airport
Kansas City International Airport is one of the largest airports in the US, though it is far from the busiest in the country. It is located in Kansas City, Missouri and houses several facilities for repairing particularly large aircrafts.
Built in the 1950s, Kansas City International Airport covers 4,320 hectares of land and features three terminals, two asphalt runways, and one concrete runway. In 2016, the relatively low-key international airport served about 11 million passengers, which hardly makes it one of the busiest in the world. Only one other airport on this list serves fewer passengers than Kansas City International Airport.
4. Washington Dulles International Airport
Named after John Foster Dulles, the 52nd Secretary of State, Washington Dulles International Airport is one of the three major airports in the Baltimore-Washington area. It is the largest of the three – but is dead last in terms of passengers served.
Washington Dulles International Airport served almost 22 million passengers in 2016 – Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport got 23.6 million while Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport registered 25 million. The airport occupies around 5,200 hectares of land, though not all of the space is being used for airport facilities. It includes the main terminal, two sub-terminals, and four concrete runways with another one on the way (pun shamelessly intended).
3. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport is the second largest international airport in the US and the third overall in the world. It is the 11th busiest international airport in the world in terms of passenger traffic, serving about 65.6 million passengers in 2016, the largest number ever recorded in the airport’s history.
The airport covers 6,963 hectares of land, making it larger than the entire island of Manhattan. It has five operational terminals, with another one in development, and seven concrete runways. The airport is so large that it has its own post office ZIP code and houses its own police, fire protection, and emergency medical services. It is often cited as one of the best airports in the world in regard to overall quality.
2. Denver International Airport
Denver International Airport is the largest international airport in the US, coming in with almost double the size of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It covers a whopping 13,570 hectares of land, dwarfing all the other previously mentioned airports on this list.
Denver International Airport is the main hub for Frontier Airlines and Great Lakes Airlines, pulls down $26.3 billion for the economy, and features six concrete runways. It is one of the busiest in the world with 58 million passengers served in 2016, which is good for 18th overall in terms of passenger traffic. But for comparison, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest airport in the world, nearly doubled that number in 2016.
1. King Fahd International Airport
King Fahd International Airport is the granddaddy of all airports in the world. Located in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, the total area covered by the property stands at an unreal 77,600 hectares, making all the other airports on this list look like a Lego set in comparison. The airport is larger than the entire country of Bahrain, which is insane.
But here’s the fun fact: Only 3,675 hectares of that space is being utilized for airport facilities. Yep, only less than 5 percent of the available space is being used. Talk about a waste of space. If we went with the actual size of the airport, it would have ranked lower on this list.
King Fahd International Airport is the youngest of the airports on this list – it opened just before the turn of the new millennium in November 1999. It is also the least busy in terms of passenger traffic, barely breaking past 10 million in annual passengers served. So you could say that the largest airport in the world is also the most unproductive.
And that’s it for our list of the largest airports in the world. Again, make sure that you remember the names of these airports when traveling. You don’t ever want to get lost in these airports.