Frequent flyers and travel enthusiasts have likely stepped foot in one of the 11 biggest airports in the world at least once. And that’s because these airports, partly due to their sheer size, have become major transport hubs between countries and even continents. Each of these 11 airports service about 10 million passengers per year, with one particular airport in China (the Beijing Capital International Airport) serving 94 million passengers annually.
However, we should note that the size of the airport is not necessarily indicative of the amount of traffic it receives. The busiest airport in the world, the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, caters to 104 million passengers each year, despite its relatively small size of 1,900 hectares. By comparison, the King Fahd International Airport welcomed about 10 million passengers in 2015, despite having ample room for millions more, as the Saudi Arabia-based airport boasts a total built-up area of 76,100 hectares. Of course, it is worth mentioning that the location of the airports also figures in to the traffic that each receives. For instance, it’s reasonable to assume that the U.S attracts more air traffic than Saudi Arabia, hence explaining the disparity in passenger numbers in relation to the land mass of the aforementioned airports.
While all of the airports listed in this article are owned by state institutions, like nations, states (in the case of the U.S), and certain cities, there are substantial business interests involved in these airports. In fact, some publicly traded companies actually own airports in Mexico. Of note, Grupo Aeroportuario dl Srst SAB CV (ADR) (NYSE:ASR), Grupo Aeroportr dl Pcfco SAB de CV (ADR) (NYSE:PAC), and Grupo Aeroportuario del Centro Nort (ADR) (NASDAQ:OMAB) own and operate a handful of airports in Mexico, each taking up a specific region in the country. However, that arrangement is more likely in developing countries and less likely in nations that have significant resources to build their own airports without needing corporate investment.
Nevertheless, airports engage in a huge amount of business deals with corporate entities, which is most apparent with the major airlines that essentially use some of these airports as their own main hubs. International airports around the world frequently have contract deals with providers of various materials and services needed for operations. For instance, Macquarie Infrastructure Corp (NYSE:MIC) has an aviation unit that provides fuel, terminal, aircraft hangaring, and other services primarily to owners and operators of general aviation aircraft at 69 airports in the U.S.
This list of the 11 biggest airports in the world serves as an update to a previous list Insider Monkey did about the 10 biggest airports in the world, but this time, we added an 11th entry, updated the passenger numbers, and included a more descriptive blurb for each airport.