I’ll never forget the first time I flew into Key West Int’l Airport (EYW). Silver Airways was very new, and, at the time, they had a great price to fly round trip from Orlando (where we live) to Ft. Myers to Key West. It was just a hop, skip and jump…MUCH faster than what would typically be an 8-hour drive.
But when we got to the airport, I was just amazed. As a strong ally of the LGBTQI+ community, I loved the artwork they have above the area where you enter the terminal.
But I was also momentarily surprised at how TINY the airport was. Don’t get me wrong…I had been to small airports before. But I don’t think I had ever noticed them like I did EWY. We’re talking about 1 runway, 2 terminals and 8 gates. For someone who grew up within a driving distance of JFK and EWR, and now lives 15 minutes from MCO, it was a little bit of a culture shock.
And then I started thinking of the large airports I had been to. I don’t necessarily mean the busiest…just the ones that were the biggest. Orlando (MCO) was surely one of them. DFW certainly had to be on the list too. And after doing some research, I was right on both counts.
Here are the largest airports in the world, based on the land area (not the number of passengers, size of terminals, etc. Just how much land is part of each airport):
10. Suvarnabhumi International (BKK) — Bangkok, Thailand — 12.51 sq. mi.
9. Cairo International (CAI) — Cairo, Egypt — 14 sq. mi.
8. Shanghai Pudong International (PVG) — Shanghai, China — 15.4 sq. mi.
7. George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) — Houston, TX, U.S.A. — 17.19 sq. mi.
6. Beijing Daxing International (PKX) — Beijing, China — 18 sq. mi.
5. Washington Dulles International (IAD) — Washington D.C., U.S.A. — 18.75 sq. mi.
4. Orlando International (MCO) — Orlando, FL, U.S.A. — 20.78 mi.
3. Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) — Dallas, TX, U.S.A. — 26.88 sq. mi.
2. Denver International (DEN) — Denver, CO, U.S.A. — 53.09 sq. mi.
1. King Fahd International (DMM) — Dammam, Saudi Arabia — 299.61 sq. mi.
Fun Fact! King Fahd International Airport is nearly as large as the 5 boroughs of New York City (combined, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island take up 302.6 sq. mi.). Yet it only hosts about 9.7 million passengers per year. Why does an airport with relatively so few passengers need nearly 300 square miles of land? There are lots of suggestions about why DMM, which is on land that used to be a United States airbase, but it appears the plans for DMM were bigger than what actually ever happened there.
Meanwhile, what about the U.S.? What are the biggest airports, in land mass, here at home?
10. Detroit Metropolitan (DTW) – Detroit, MI – 7.57 sq. mi.
9. John F. Kennedy (JFK) – Queens, NY – 8.12 sq. mi.
8. San Francisco International (SFO) – San Francisco, CA – 8.13 sq. mi.
7. O’Hare International (ORD) – Chicago, IL – 11.92 sq. mi.
6. Salt Lake City International (SLC) – Salt Lake City, UT – 12.03 sq. mi.
The other 5, of course, are on the list above, as well:
5. George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) – Houston, TX – 17.19 sq. mi.
4. Washington Dulles International (IAD) – Washington D.C. – 18.75 sq. mi.
3. Orlando International (MCO) – Orlando, FL. – 20.78 mi.
2. Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) – Dallas, TX – 26.88 sq. mi.
1. Denver International (DEN) – Denver, CO – 53.09 sq. mi.
Of course, size has nothing to do with how busy an airport is (DMM shows that example very well). ATL is still the busiest airport in the world, even though it “only” takes up 7.34 sq. mi.
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