Airports serve as vital gateways, connecting us to the far reaches of the world. These aviation hubs provide the necessary facilities for aircraft, handle cargo logistics and cater to the needs of millions of travelers annually. As passenger numbers continue to surge in 2023, airports face overcrowding. To address this, some countries are expanding their aviation hubs with new terminals and runways to accommodate the growing number of travelers and aircraft.
Here, we embark on a journey to explore the Top 10 largest airports in the world in 2023, focusing specifically on their land area size. We’ll count down from the 10th place to the first place…
10. Cairo International Airport (CAI) 14 square miles (36 square kilometers)
Cairo International Airport opened for business in 1963. Situated in Heliopolis, it stands as the busiest airport in Egypt and serves as a central hub for Egyptair, Air Cairo, Air Arabia Egypt and Nile Air. It also holds the distinction of being the busiest airport in Africa.
The airport boasts four terminals, of which three cater for both international and domestic flights. In 2011, a new terminal, named the Seasonal Flight Terminal (SFT), was inaugurated to alleviate operational pressures, particularly during pilgrim seasons. The airport has four runways.
9. Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) 15 square miles (39 square kilometers)
Starting commercial operations in 1999, Shanghai Pudong Airport is situated in Shanghai, China, and holds a significant status as a major aviation hub for airlines including Shanghai Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.
Pudong Airport boasts two passenger terminals, with Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 facilitating both domestic and international flights. In a recent expansion, a third passenger terminal, along with a satellite terminal and two additional runways, was opened in 2021. Currently, the airport has five runways.
8. George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) 17 square miles (44 square kilometers)
Originally named ‘Houston Intercontinental Airport’, the airport was opened in 1969 and is situated in Houston, Texas. Functioning as a significant aviation hub for United Airlines and a focus city for Spirit Airlines, it also ranks as the second busiest airport in the US state of Texas.
George Bush Airport is equipped with five terminals, designated as Terminals A, B, C, D and E. These terminals collectively accommodate both domestic and international operations. Complementing its operations, the airport features five runways to manage its bustling traffic efficiently.
7. Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) 18 square miles (47 square kilometers)
Located in China, Beijing Daxing Airport holds the rank of sixth on the list of the world’s largest airports, based on area size. It can also claim the title of the world’s largest single-building airport terminal. PKX started operations in 2019 and has risen to become the central aviation hub for three prominent Chinese airlines: Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.
Daxing Airport features a single terminal, but this unique structure boasts five concourses, forming a striking starfish shape when viewed from above. To facilitate its extensive operations, the airport is equipped with four runways.
6. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) 18 square miles (47 square kilometers)
Washington Dulles International Airport, commonly referred to as Dulles International Airport, has been in operation since 1962. Serving as both the first and main hub for United Airlines, it also holds a hub for Southern Airways Express. It is ranked as the world’s fifth-largest airport and the fourth-largest within the United States (US).
The airport’s terminal configuration comprises a central main terminal alongside two midfield terminal buildings, denoted as concourses A/B and C/D. Dulles Airport boasts a total of four runways.
5. Orlando International Airport (MCO) 20 square miles (52 square kilometers)
Open since 1940, Orlando International Airport holds the distinction of serving as a significant operating base for several prominent airlines, including Frontier Airlines, Avelo Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Spirit Airlines. Additionally, it functions as a hub for JetBlue and Silver Airways. It’s based in Orlando, Florida.
Orlando Airport’s main terminal is divided into three segments, namely Terminals A, B and C. Terminals A and B are linked to two airside terminals, facilitating both international and domestic flights. Terminal C is dedicated to international flights operated by non-US airlines and all JetBlue flights. To accommodate all of its bustling activity, the airport is equipped with four runways.
4. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) 26 square miles (67 square kilometers)
Since 1973, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, based in Texas, has played a pivotal role as a major aviation hub for various airlines, including American Airlines, Ameriflight, Southern Airways Express and UPS Airlines. Additionally, it holds the status of a focus city for Spirit Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.
Dallas Airport has a total of five terminals. Terminal A is exclusively utilized by American Airlines, while the remaining terminals—B, C, D, and E—facilitate a mix of international and domestic flights. Notably, the airport is equipped with a grand total of seven runways. A unique distinction of DFW is that it stands as the sole airport worldwide with four operational paved runways, exceeding 13,000 feet or 4,000 meters in length.
3. Istanbul Airport (IST) 29.5 square miles (76 square kilometers)
Since its opening in 2019, Istanbul Airport has become a major global hub for Turkish Airlines. The airport has one terminal, serving both domestic and international flights.
What sets Istanbul Airport apart is its impressive runway infrastructure, with five runways, some exceeding 13,000 feet or 4,000 meters in length. This capacity allows for efficient handling of a large number of flights. Additionally, the airport offers modern amenities like lounges, shops, and dining options, making it a comfortable and convenient travel choice for passengers connecting between Europe and Asia.
The new Istanbul airport stands as Turkey‘s largest infrastructure project. The airport is expected to be fully built by 2025, at which point it will have six runways and reach a total capacity of accommodating 200 million passengers annually.
2. Denver International Airport (DEN) 53 square miles (137 square kilometers)
Denver International Airport, located in Colorado, has been in operation since 1995 and holds several remarkable distinctions. It ranks as the second-largest airport globally and the largest within the US. Additionally, it proudly claims the title of the world’s second-busiest airport, a testament to its sheer volume of activity.
Notably, the airport boasts the longest public-use runway across North America and the seventh-longest globally, stretching an impressive 16,000 feet or 4,800 meters. Serving as a hub for United Airlines, Southern Airways Express, and Denver Air Connection, it also operates as a base for Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines.
Denver Airport’s single terminal is connected to three primary midfield concourses—A, B, and C. To accommodate its dynamic air traffic, the airport is equipped with a total of six runways.
Enhancing its distinctiveness, Denver International Airport showcases a collection of iconic and unique artworks. Among these, one particularly noteworthy piece is the ‘Mustang’, situated outside the airport. The airport’s Teflon-coated fiberglass roof pays homage to the Rocky Mountains.
1. King Fahd International Airport (DMM) 299 square miles (774 square kilometers)
Introducing the world’s largest airport in terms of area size, measuring a sprawling 299 square miles or 774 square kilometers: King Fahd International Airport, also recognized as Dammam Airport, based in Saudi Arabia. Commencing operations in 1999, this airport serves as a hub for Saudia, Flyadeal, and Flynas.
The airport’s infrastructure comprises three distinct terminal buildings. The primary terminal, spanning six floors, accommodates both international and domestic flights. The Aramco Terminal, on the other hand, caters exclusively to private airlines operated by Saudi Aramco. Additionally, the Royal Terminal extends its services to the royal family of Saudi Arabia, official guests, and government officials. Dammam Airport is adeptly facilitated by two runways.
Sum up: World’s Top 10 largest airports in 2023
|Airport||Size (Square Miles/Square kilometers)|
|King Fahd International Airport (DMM)||299 sq miles (774 sq km)|
|Denver International Airport (DEN)||53 sq miles (137 sq km)|
|Istanbul Airport (IST)||29.5 sq miles (76 sq km)|
|Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)||26 sq miles (67 sq km)|
|Orlando International Airport (MCO)||20 sq miles (52 sq km)|
|Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)||18 sq miles (47 sq km)|
|Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX)||18 sq miles (47 sq km)|
|George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)||17 sq miles (44 sq km)|
|Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG)||15 sq miles (39 sq km)|
|Cairo International Airport (CAI)||14 sq miles (36 sq km)|
Please note that the sizes are approximate and rounded values.