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Six of the World’s Largest and Busiest Airports

In keeping with the recently held Airport show, Kipp takes a look at some of the largest and busiest airports in the world.

June 10, 2012 3:28 by

  • Al Maktoum International Airport

    Location: Jebel Ali, Dubai, UAE

    Date of Opening: 27 June 2010

    Years of Operation: 2010 to present

    Cargo Traffic: over 700,000 tonnes annually

    Construction cost: US$ 75 million (Dh275.5 million) for Al Maktoum Airport Cargo Gateway)

    The Al Maktoum International Airport, deemed as the world's largest passenger and cargo hub, will be ten times larger than Dubai International Airport and Dubai Cargo Village put together.

    The airport is said to be completed and operational by 2017. Reportedly, the airport’s annual passenger capacity and cargo capacity will be around 160 million and 12 million tonnes, respectively; that is, nearly 50 percent more than the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

    It will have six parallel runways (4.5 Km in length), two luxury facilities and three passenger terminals: one for airlines of Emirates Group, second for other carriers, and the third for low-cost carriers

    *Image source -

  • Abu Dhabi International Airport (ADIA)

    Location: Abu Dhabi, UAE

    Date of Opening: 1982

    Years of Operation: 1982 to present

    Passenger Traffic: 20 million annually

    Construction cost: US$ 6.8 billion (Dh24.9 billion) for expansion and renovation.

    ADIA is the second largest airport in the Middle East, after Dubai International Airport. Recently, at the 2012 World Airport Awards, the airport won the ‘Best Airport in the Middle East Award’ and was ranked the 3rd best airport in the world. It bagged the Airport Service Quality Awards for the 2nd Best Airport in the Middle East in 2011.

    ADIA was also certified as a 4-star airport, under the World Airline Star Rating programme by Skytrax, for its excellent airport facilities and service standards.  The Midfield Terminal, which is a new passenger terminal is currently under construction and is due for completion in 2016. This terminal is expected to increase the annual passenger capacity to more than 20 million.

    *Image source -

  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

    Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA

    Date of Opening: 15-09-1926

    Years of Operation: 1940 to present

    Passenger Traffic: 54.9 million (as of Jan 2012)

    Construction cost: US$ 500 million (Dh1.84 billion) plus an expansion and renovation cost of US$ 9 billion (Dh33.06 billion)

    ATL won the 2011 Global and North American Airport Efficiency Excellence Award from the Air Transport Research Society and was also ranked the world’s busiest airport the same year

    In 2007, the airport had 994,346 takeoffs and landings, that is, one takeoff and one landing every minute of every day, setting a world record that no other airport has since broken.

    ATL was originally the site of an automobile racetrack that was built by the founder of Coco Cola Company, Asa Chandler in 1909. The racetrack was barely used and failed to attract audience, after a year this paved way for the first air show in Atlanta on the same old racetrack. Later on, it was leased for five years for use as an airfield.

  • Beijing Capital International Airport (BCIA)

    Location: Shunyi, Beijing, China

    Years of Operation: 1958 to present

    Passenger Traffic/capacity: 48.7 million

    Construction cost: Expansion and renovation cost was over a US$ 625 million (Dh2.30 billion)

    BCIA is currently the second busiest airport in the world. In 2011, BCIA won the Airport Service Quality for the 3rd Best Airport Worldwide. A new airport in the province of rural Daxing in Beijing is under construction. The airport is deemed to be the largest airport in the world, and is rumoured to be launched in the fall of 2017. It was reported that the BCIA will close down once the new airport commences operations.

  • London Heathrow Airport

    Location: Greater London, England, UK

    Date of Opening: 31 -05-1946

    Years of Operation: 1946 to present

    Passenger Traffic: 40 million (as of Jan 2012)

    Construction cost: £ 3.4 billion (Dh19.5 billion) for T1 – T4, £ 4.2 billion (Dh23.8 billion) for T5 and an additional £ 3 billion (17.4 billion) for further expansion.

    The fourth busiest airport has two runways and five passenger terminals.

    As the official Host Airport of London Olympics 2012, Heathrow Airport is reportedly designing a special Games Terminal for athletes departing from the Olympic Games. The terminal will have the capacity to handle 10,000 athletes and over 38,000 departing bags from the Olympic and Paralympic village, ensuring smooth operation of other terminals after the closing ceremony.

    The airport is expecting August 13, 2012 to be the busiest day in the airport’s history, with an estimated collection of 35 percent more departing bags than on a normal day.

    *Image source

  • O’Hare International Airport

    Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Date of Opening: 01-01-1944

    Years of Operation: 1955 to present

    Passenger Traffic: 39 million (as of Jan 2012)

    Construction cost: US$ 15 billion (Dh55 billion) modernization plan

    The airport is the domestic hub for some of the largest carriers in the world (including United Airlines and American Airlines.) It has received the Global Traveller Award for Best Airport in North America ten years in a row.  In September 2011, the airport got a little greener with the grand opening of a 928-square-foot environmentally friendly aeroponic garden (in the mezzanine level of Terminal 3). The garden has vegetable cultivation facilities, and the harvests, including sweet basil, cilantro, Bibb lettuce and habanero peppers are used at O’Hare restaurants.

    *Image source -


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