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Ten of the World’s Great Airports

The development of international air travel has made the world a smaller place for millions of us, and the chance to explore far-off countries has become a temptation that’s simply too good to miss. Many people have marvelled at the way airports handle huge numbers of incoming and outgoing passengers on a daily basis, and here are ten that are among the most impressive of them all.

Heathrow (London)


One of the busiest airports in the whole world, Heathrow has been handling passengers since it began life as a small airfield in 1929. It’s located to the west of the UK’s capital in the borough of Hillingdon, and these days it has five terminals to help it cope with around 70 million annual passenger movements.

Kingsford Smith (Sydney)

Kingsford Smith

In the south-eastern Sydney suburb of Mascot you’ll find the highly impressive Kingsford Smith Airport, one of the world’s oldest. It’s named after Sir Charles Kingsford Smith, an Australian aviator who made the first trans-Pacific flight from the USA to Australia in 1928. These days, the establishment that bears his name is a hub for several airlines.

O’Hare (Chicago)


Once the busiest airport in the world, O’Hare International is located to the north-west of central Chicago. Its aircraft movements are now restricted by government but it was still the fourth-busiest in 2011. The airport was built during World War Two as part of a factory that was manufacturing war planes.

Beijing Capital (China)

Beijing Capital

Major expansion programmes over the past two decades have transformed Beijing International into one of the world’s most important airports. It was originally built as a single airfield in the 1950s, but nowadays only Atlanta handles more passengers on an annual basis. The airport has three terminals, the last of which was opened in 2004.

Hartsfield-Jackson (Atlanta)


The busiest airport in the world, Atlanta handles more than a quarter of a million passenger movements every single day, a staggering number. For the convenience of users, there is a special train which can take people from one section of the airport to another. The Jackson in the airport’s name is in honour of Maynard Jackson, a former Mayor of Atlanta.

Haneda (Tokyo)


Tokyo is home to two major airports, one of which is Haneda. Located around nine miles to the south of the city center, it’s one of the world’s busiest, although this is mainly because of the number of domestic flights that it handles. Narita, to the east of the city, takes care of most of the international flights.

Frankfurt am Main (Germany)

Frankfurt am Main

One of the busiest airports in Europe, Frankfurt moved more than 56 million people in 2011. It’s an important center for the movement of international cargo, it serves more destinations around the world (275 in 2011) than any other airport. The original Frankfurt Airport was built way back in 1909.

Gatwick (London)


Home to two runways, one of which is the busiest in the world, Gatwick is London’s second-largest airport. Located around 30 miles south of the city center, it’s primarily used as a holiday airport for travellers to the sun-kissed resorts of Europe. It has two terminal buildings which are connected by a driverless monorail service.

LAX (Los Angeles)


Often affectionately referred to as LAX (the IATA airport code), Los Angeles International Airport was the sixth-busiest in the world in 2011. There are several other airports which serve the city, including ones named after Bob Hope and John Wayne, but LAX is the largest of them.

Charles de Gaulle (Paris)

Charles de Gaulle

The largest and busiest airport in France, CDG is around 16 miles north-east of Paris. One of the newer major hubs, it was opened in 1974 and named after the charismatic French leader. There are three terminals, one of which (Terminal One) was built to resemble an octopus when seen from the air.

Written by Ayesha Khan

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