Ranked: Biggest Airports in the World

There are many words that you can use to describe an airport. Huge, busy, exciting, and even confusing are a few of them. When it comes to the “finest” airports, people have different ideas about what makes an airport great. Some people may think that the best airport is one where there are rarely any air traffic delays or cancellations. Others may think that the best airport is large and has all of their favorite shops and a variety of restaurants to choose from. 

There are airports that have both long and short-term parking spots available for travelers, check-in counters, and security screening stations. Then there are those that offer non-stop service to dozens or hundreds of locations worldwide. Below is a list of the ten largest airports in the world:

Biggest Airports in the World

1. King Fahd International Airport

King Fahd International Airport (KFIA) is located in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. It has a capacity to serve around 10-12 million people and is the third largest in Saudi Arabia in terms of passenger volume. The airport serves as the gateway to those visiting the port city of Dammam and the surrounding areas of Ras Tanura, Qatif, Al Khobar, Dhahran, and Jubail Industrial City.

King Fahd International Airport

The King Fahad International Airport has three passenger terminals: the Passenger Terminal for general airline traffic, the Aramco Terminal for employees of the state-run oil company (Aramco), and the Royal Terminal for royal family members.

In the 1970s, both architectural firms Yamasaki & Associates and Boeing Aerosystems International began working on the design of a new airport and presented their master plan in 1976. Construction occurred in 1983, and the airport was first opened for commercial operations in 1999. [1]

2. Denver International Airport

Denver International Airport

In the 1990s, Denver International Airport (DIA) was expanded to meet the city’s growing needs. The airport is now the largest in the US and the fifth busiest airport in the world. It is also the third busiest airport in America behind Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois.

The airport has six runways, five measuring 12,000 feet in length and one measuring 16,000 feet – the longest commercial runway in North America. DIA is one of the few airports in the US that have a lot of room for future expansion and can accommodate six more runways. [2]

Currently, DIA has three concourses (Gates A, B and C) and a total of 127 narrow-body gates. [3]

3. Dallas/Fort Worth International

Dallas-Fort Worth International

It’s not just one of the largest airports in the world by size, its also the third biggest by aircraft movement and the second-busiest by passenger volume. Dallas/Fort Worth International boasts seven runways, a staggering traffic count of about 70 million passengers per year and has five terminals and 188 gates. It’s the only airport in the world where four planes can land simultaneously without any curfews or slot constraints.  The American Airlines is also headquartered near the airport, making it the largest hub for the airlines. [7]

4. Orlando International

Orlando International

Orlando International Airport, also known as OIA, is the fourth busiest airport in the United States by passenger traffic and the busiest in Florida. The airport serves Orlando and is located 6 miles (9.7 km) southeast of downtown Orlando. It has four runways and one terminal divided into three sides A & B/C, and 93 gates. In 2018 (pre-COVID figures), the airport served 47.7mn passengers making it the 11th busiest airport in the US by passenger traffic. [4]

5. Washington Dulles International

Washington Dulles International

Washington Dulles International Airport serves Washington, DC, and its surrounding region as the area’s primary airport. The airport is located 26 miles west of downtown Washington in Loudoun County, Virginia, and Fairfax County, Virginia. It was named after John Foster Dulles, who was secretary of state under Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In 2019, Dulles handled a little over 24 million passengers, making it the second-busiest airport in the DC area. It has four runways and one terminal with five concourses. The airport covers 12,000 acres and has 135 gates. It is a regional hub for domestic as well international travelers and handles 103 non-stop US and 52 non-stop international destinations. The airport has plenty of room for expansion and can handle 45 million passengers annually with just minor expansion. [8]

6. Beijing Daxing International

Beijing Daxing International

Beijing Daxing International Airport is located 30 miles south of downtown Beijing. The airport has a capacity of 45 million passengers annually but is projected to hit 100 million in the future, making it one of the busiest airports in China and the world.

The airport is dubbed as the most expensive and technologically advanced in the world and officially opened on 26 September 2019, after spending five years under construction and a whopping $63 billion in costs (up from forecasted $17 billion due to establishment of transportation links including metro expressways, high-speed rail and inter-airport links). It was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, and it covers almost 18 square miles of land.

Of course, there are numerous other airports across Asia that are much smaller than Beijing Daxing International Airport (such as Tokyo Haneda Airport), but they’re still larger than all non-Asian major international airports.

7. George Bush Intercontinental

George Bush Intercontinental

Located in the city of Houston, Texas, George Bush Intercontinental Airport has five runways and five terminals. With a total area of 17.19 square miles, it is one of the largest airports in Texas. The airport was opened in 1969 and was named after George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the US. 

Since then, it has expanded at a rapid rate and now services around-200 destinations.

8. Shanghai Pudong International

Shanghai Pudong International

Compared to the other airports on this list, Shanghai Pudong is a young gun. It opened on 1 October 1999  is now the largest airport terminal in the world (single satellite terminal) with a total floor space area of 824,000 sq.meters Its third terminal was opened in 2021, raising its annual passenger capacity to 80 million people. [11]

9. Cairo International

Cairo International

Egypt’s Cairo International Airport is the biggest in Egypt and the second busiest airport (after Johannesburg) in Africa, with 17.5 million passengers in 2018. It has four passenger terminals with parking for 3,000 cars and a bus station. There are plans to add significant new facilities to the airport, including an additional terminal funded by World Bank loan and in collaboration with Turkiye.

The airport serves as a hub for EgyptAir, EgyptAir Express, and Nile Air. It handles flights from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Flights from European destinations include London, Paris, and Rome, while those from Asia include Dubai and Kuwait. On the African continent, they serve Johannesburg and Tunis while also servicing domestic destinations such as Luxor and Hurghada on the Red Sea coast of Egypt.

Located 22 kilometers from the city center, there are plans to build a rail line directly into downtown Cairo that would decrease travel time between the city center and airport by more than half the current time taken by road. [12]

10. Suvarnabhumi International

Suvarnabhumi International

Located in Bangkok, Thailand, Suvarnabhumi International is the country’s largest airport. Serving as a hub for Thai Airways, the facility opened in 2006 and is the 11th busiest airport in Asia. It features two terminals that can accommodate more than 45 million passengers per year. There are also three runways capable of handling 100 air traffic movements per hour.

Suvarnabhumi Airport serves over 95 airlines and provides nonstop links to destinations in East Asia and Europe. It has hundreds of retail outlets and food establishments for travelers waiting for flights or getting their first taste of Thailand upon arrival in Bangkok.

The airport’s advanced technology has made it one of the most efficient facilities on Earth – able to accommodate twice as many travelers as originally planned despite its limited land area


Airports are a big deal. The world’s airports transported a total of 3.8 billion people in 2016, and they will certainly transport even more this year—The Asia-Pacific region is expected to contribute the most to future growth with more than half of the new passengers belonging to it in the next two decades [5]. With heavy investments, China is a great example of where the future of airports is headed The country already has 235 airports, is building (or planning to build) new airports, and forecasts the need for around 450 airports by 2035. [6]


[1] King Fahd International Airport. (2020, May 15). Airport Technology. https://www.airport-technology.com/projects/king-fahd/

[2] Runways and Airfield. (n.d.). Denver International Airport. https://www.flydenver.com/about/media_center/runways_airfield

[3] Airport Facilities. (n.d.). flydenver. https://www.flydenver.com/airport_facilities

[4] Töre, Ö. (2019, February 7). Orlando international named Florida’s busiest airport in 2018. Focus on Travel News. https://ftnnews.com/aviation/36249-orlando-international-named-florida-s-busiest-airport-in-2018

[5] IATA forecasts passenger demand to double over 20 years. (n.d.). IATA. https://www.iata.org/en/pressroom/pr/2016-10-18-02/

[6] Matt Falcus and Maggie Hiufu Wong. (2019, May 25). Beijing is building hundreds of airports as millions of Chinese take to the skies. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/china-new-airports/index.html

[7] DFW now flies nonstop to more U.S. destinations than any other airport. (2020, January 10). Dallas News. https://www.dallasnews.com/business/airlines/2020/01/10/dfw-now-flies-non-stop-to-more-us-destinations-than-any-other-airport/

[8] About dulles international. (n.d.). flydulles.com. https://www.flydulles.com/about-dulles-international

[9] Largest airports in the world 2022. (n.d.). 2022 World Population by Country. https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/largest-airports-in-the-world

[10] Beijing’s new airport is already the world’s most expensive and likely to become the busiest. (2019, September 26). ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-09-26/daxing-airport-opens-in-beijing/11550116

[11] Shanghai Pudong International Airport. (n.d.). placeandsee.com. https://placeandsee.com/wiki/shanghai-pudong-international-airport

[12] CAIRO AIRPORT (CAI). (n.d.). airport-cairo. https://www.airport-cairo.com/

Air transport statistic. (2022, June 22). Airports of Thailand. https://www.airportthai.co.th/en/airports-of-thailand-plc/about-aot/air-transport-statistic/