A city within a city: That is the feeling one gets inside the biggest airport in the world. Shopping areas, famous fashion brands, duty-free shops, food courts… in short, everything that makes an airport a place to pass the time while waiting for the next flight.
In the last 90 years, air travel has undergone dramatic changes. Airports have become strategic infrastructure that attracts significant investments and provides countries greater opportunities for business and tourism. Everything is predicated upon the latest technology and the most advanced services that transform a simple airport into a piece of infrastructure for the future.
There are two airports that compete for the title of the biggest in the world in terms of size and traffic volume, and we have included them in our ranking of the top 10 airports: they are those in Beijing and Istanbul.
The brand new Daxing airport, which stands to become the world’s biggest, covers 700,000 square metres. Designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid, it revives the traditional idea of an airport with the addition of open spaces, luxury gardens and even a waterfall.
Turkey’s Istanbul Airport, which cost more than $12 billion to build, covers 100,000 square metres with a control tower as its signature feature: a glass and iron tulip-shaped structure designed by the Italian studio Pininfarina.
The 10 largest airports in the world
On the tallest podium stands the Daxing in Beijing, whose inauguration is scheduled for September 30 on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. It has a capacity to handle 100 million passengers a year. It took five years to build at a cost of $13 billion. The terminal building that covers 700,000 square metres. These staggering figures justify its primacy and makes it the airport of the future.
In second place among the largest airports in the world is the Istanbul Airport (Yeni Havalimani om Turkish). It cost $12 billion dollars to build this infrastructure project with 112 gates, a 25,000-seat car park and 100,000 square metres of other spaces. Although it was officially opened in October 2018, work on an additional six runways should finish in 2028.
Third place is for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in the United States. This airport can handle more than 100 million passengers a year, given the large number of domestic flights handled from U.S. southeast. There are also many gates: more than 200 thanks to the expansion work carried out in 2012. This airport had the biggest traffic volumes until Daxing and Istanbul Airport arrived.
The Beijing Capital International Airport is in fourth place with 100 million passengers a year and 120 flight destinations. This is the most important airport in Asia until the opening of Daxing.
Record numbers at Dubai International sees it rank fifth among the world's largest airports. It is the port of call for Middle Eastern travellers: 3,000 hectares of surface area, 90 million passengers every year, 6,000 flights a week, and more than 200 destinations.
The sixth place speaks Japanese with the Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal in Tokyo, where it handles more than 80% of domestic flights. Its construction dates back to 1931 from which time it lost its international role to focus on domestic traffic. With the addition of a third terminal in 2010, it has returned to being an important hub for international flights for cargo and passengers.
Back to the United States where the Los Angeles International Airport ranks seventh among the world's largest airports. It receives 84 million passengers a year and occupies an area of about 14 square kilometres.
The country also has an airport in eighth place in the form of Chicago's O’Hare International Airport where 80 million passengers pass through its terminals every year.
The United Kingdom has a claim to the ranking with London Heathrow in ninth place. It covers 12 square kilometres and acts as the main hub for flag carrier British Airways. It sees 78 million passengers pass through each year.
The Hong Kong International Airport closes the list, welcoming more than 70 million passengers each year and handling more than 220 destinations. It is the main airport of Hong Kong.