World's Busiest Airport - World's Biggest Airports – and World's Largest Airport

Which is the World’s Biggest Airport?

Most international travelers believes the World's Busiest Airport is Heathrow Airport in London, UK, and that the World’s Largest Airport is King Fahd Airport in Damman, Saudi Arabia. This is not necessarily true to everyone as many Air traffic controllers will tell you that the World’s Busiest Airport is Hartsfield Airport in Jackson-Atlanta, U.S.A. Travelers making domestic flights in Hartsfield Airport will agree that Hartsfield Airport is the busiest airport in the world. This means that quantifying the world’s busiest airport can be tricky as there are two or three different answers depending on who is answering the question.

Definitions of International and Domestic Flights

  1. An international flight is defined as a flight that takes off in one country and lands in another country.
  2. A domestic flight is defined as a flight that takes off and lands in the same country

Usually an international flight covers a longer distance and takes more time to complete than a domestic flight. U.S.A has a very large land area in comparison to countries in Europe and Japan. This means that some domestic flights in US covers longer distance and takes more time to complete than international flight across Europe.

For example:

(a) A flight from Hartsfield Airport (ATL) to Victorville Airport (VCV) is a distance of 3020 kilometres but it is referred to as a domestic flight.

(b) A flight from Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Frankfurt (FRA) is a distance of 652 kilometres but it is referred to as an international flight.

Airport Personnel

Airport securities are the personnel that checks on baggage, metal and weapon screenings of individual travelers, etc. To Airport security, a Boeing 777-200 with 344 passengers means more work for them to do than on an Airbus A321 with 198 passengers. To air traffic control (ATC), a Boeing 777-200 with 344 passengers and an Airbus A321 with 198 passengers means equal attention to each plane.

A Boeing 747-400 as a cargo aircraft will carry a payload of about 120, 000 kilogrammes. That is just one aircraft but will certainly make the airport personnel handling that aircraft busy.

It is because of the factors discussed here that quantifying the world’s busiest airport is different to different groups of people. It is only logical to classify the airports based on the following titles:

1. World's Busiest Airport by Aircraft Traffic

An aircraft movement is taken to mean either a landing or a take off of an aircraft.

(i) Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta Airport, US with 0.70 million aircraft movements per year

(ii) O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, US with 0.65 million aircraft movements per year.

2. World's busiest airports by passenger traffic

A passenger traffic is taken to occur when a passenger in an aircraft arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport. Top airports for this title of World's busiest airports by passenger traffic include

(i). Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta, US with 75 million passengers per year

(ii). Beijing Capital International Airport, China with 62 million passengers per year

Hartsfield Airport - The World's busiest airports by passenger traffic as well as the World's Busiest Airport by Aircraft Traffic.image credit: Omoo, Wikimedia commons.
Hartsfield Airport - The World's busiest airports by passenger traffic as well as the World's Busiest Airport by Aircraft Traffic.image credit: Omoo, Wikimedia commons. | Source

3. World's Busiest Airports by International Passenger Traffic

An international passenger traffic is taken to occur when a passenger in an international flight arrives in, departs from, or transfers through the airport. Top airports for this title of World's busiest airports by international passenger traffic include

(i) London Heathrow Airport, UK, with 40 million international passengers per year

(ii) Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, France, with 36 million international passengers per year.

London Heathrow Airport - the World's Busiest Airports by International Passenger Traffic, image credit: Dbx54, Wikimedia commons.
London Heathrow Airport - the World's Busiest Airports by International Passenger Traffic, image credit: Dbx54, Wikimedia commons. | Source

4. World's Busiest Airports by Cargo Traffic

Cargo traffic refers to weight of flight cargo loaded or unloaded from an aircraft. Top airports for this title of world's busiest airports by cargo traffic include

(i) Memphis International Airport, Tennessee, US, with 3.7 billion kilos per year

(ii) Hong Kong International Airport, Hong Kong, with 3.4 billion kilos per year

Memphis International Airport, Tennessee- the World's Busiest Airports by Cargo Traffic, image credit: Thomas R Machnitzki, Wikimedia commons.
Memphis International Airport, Tennessee- the World's Busiest Airports by Cargo Traffic, image credit: Thomas R Machnitzki, Wikimedia commons.

World’s Biggest Airport - and World's Largest Airport

World’s biggest airport is also the world’s largest airport. The world’s largest airport is King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia, with land area of approximately 780 square kilometres. This airport has a royal terminal specially reserved for the Saudi Royal Family, top government personnel, and other official guests. This world’s biggest airport handles only 5 million passengers per year which is only 6% of the passengers handled by Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta Airport of United States.

King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia - the Worlds biggest airport - and the worlds largest airport.image credit, moaksey, Wikipedia commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dammam_Airport.jpg
King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia - the Worlds biggest airport - and the worlds largest airport.image credit, moaksey, Wikipedia commons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Dammam_Airport.jpg

If you have liked this article, and you would want this page to keep up and improved, you can help by purchasing some great items from Amazon by following Amazon links and widgets on this page. A free way to help would be to link back to this webpage from your web page, blog, or discussion forums.

The Author’s page is designed to help beginners and average readers make some money as an extra income to supplement what they may be earning elsewhere - details of which you can find in My Page.

More by this Author


Comments 5 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

Thank you for your great work of research.


vydyulashashi profile image

vydyulashashi 5 years ago from Hyderabad,India

Wonderful info regarding how to evaluate the status of airport.

God Bless You!


yenajeon profile image

yenajeon 5 years ago from California

Super interesting! It's weird that there's different ways to define "Busies Airport!". Rated up.


Sarath Kumar 4 years ago

Grt job done....


Jason Matthews profile image

Jason Matthews 3 years ago from North Carolina

I love this hub. In general, airports fascinate me. I enjoyed learning more airport facts and looking at your photos. Thanks for sharing!

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working