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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

10 Largest and Busiest Airports in Africa

Africa has improved in developing airports of international worths as the continent keeps attracting global investment and encouraging economic growth.

Ranking of airports in terms of how busy and large they are takes in the surface areas also called the length and the passenger traffic. 

The Passenger traffic here means the number of passengers who pass through an airport daily or annually.

Keep reading as we unveil the list of Africa’s most extensive and busiest airports and their locations.

1. Johannesburg or Tambo International Airport, South Africa 

Johannesburg Airport, the Tambo International Airport, in other words, is Africa’s no.1 most extensive and busiest airport.

It was first named the Jan Smuts International Airport, after the former South African Prime Minister Jan Smuts. 

In 1994, the airport was renamed again to Johannesburg International Airport when there was debunk from the newly elected African National Congress (ANC) government. 

The airport is a public one, owned by the Airports Company, South Africa. 

It is among the few airports on the continent that gives passengers direct flights between all six continents, serving as a continental gateway to Sub-Saharan African.

Johannesburg Airport is a hub for the following airlines: 

– Airlink

– British Airways

– CemAir

– FlySafair

– kulula.com

– Lift Airline

– Mango

– South African Airways 

Location the International Airport: Kempton Park district of Johannesburg, 23 km northwest of the city center and 46 km south of Pretoria city center.

  • Why the airport is the largest in Africa

Johannesburg airport covers 16,730,000 square meters, including six passenger terminals and two main runways.

Again, it has total length runways of 7,826 m which qualifies it as one of the biggest.

  • Why it is the busiest in Africa

The airport is Africa’s busiest airport because it hosts up to 28 million passengers yearly.

Another evidence that the airport is the busiest in Africa is that in 2017, it conveyed over 21 million passengers.

2. Cairo International Airport, Egypt

Cairo International Airport, the second-largest and busiest airport in Africa, is the principal international airport serving the entire Cairo and the neighboring cities, occupying 37 km2 (14 sq mi) land area.

The airport serves as the primary hub for EgyptAir and Nile Air with several other airlines.

The Cairo Airport Company operates in the airport, and the airport is a public airport.

Location of the Cairo International Airport: Heliopolis, around fifteen kilometers to the northeast of Cairo.

  • Terminals

The airport has four terminals comprising departure hall 1, international hall 3, and hall 4 for private and non-commercial aircraft services.

  • Why the Cairo International Airport is the 2nd largest airport in Africa

 It has approximately 37 km2 (14 sq mi), the second terminal of the airport has a 1,500 square-meter lounge that can accommodate 300 people.

Why it is the 2nd busiest in Africa

As of 2012, the airport records 14,711,500 passengers.

Again, on 28 September 2016, the airport accommodated 7.5 million passengers bringing its total capacity to 30 million passengers annually.

3. Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Ethiopia

Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is the third-largest and busiest airport in Africa, serving Ethiopia and various destinations throughout the continent.

It is a public airport owned by Ethiopian Airlines.

Also called Haile Selassie International Airport, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport serves as the base for the Ethiopian Aviation Academy.

Location of the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport: Bole district, 6 km southeast of the city center and 65 kilometers north of Bishoftu. 

  • Why the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is among the largest in Africa

The airport is the third-largest; it has new terminals capable of handling about 3,000 passengers an hour.

Also, the terminals can accommodate up to 22 million passengers annually.

  • Why it is the 3rd busiest in Africa

Based on a report in June 2018, the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport records nearly 450 arriving and departing flights per day, counting it among the busiest.

  • Addis Ababa Bole International Airport Terminals

The airport operates two terminals, ii gates, and over 30 remote aircraft parking stands at the back of the terminals connected by a walkway and a free shuttle service.

The first terminal has four gates for domestic flights, while the second terminal has seven gates handling international arrivals and departures.

The first terminal serves;

EgyptAir

Yemenia

Sudan Airways

Qatar Airways

Domestic and regional flights for Ethiopian airlines

4. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya

The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the fourth largest and busiest in Africa, located in Nairobi, operated by Kenya Airports Authority. 

The airport is jointly owned by civilians and militaries, serving the Nairobi metropolitan region.

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was previously called the Embakasi Airport or the Nairobi International Airport, was later renamed to honor Kenya’s first president and prime minister.  

Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the hub for Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Fly540, and African Express Airways.

  • Why Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the 4th largest in Africa 

It is the fourth-largest because its current runway is 60 meters wide and 4.2 kilometers long.

  • Why it is the 4th busiest Airport in Africa 

It is the busiest because it serves approximately seven million passengers. 

Also, the airport records a cover of about 984,769 Passengers in 2020. 

  • Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Terminals

Jomo Kenyatta airport has two major terminals, with the first terminal having a subdivision into four groups viz; 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1E. 

The above groups of terminals are for international arrivals and departures.

Terminal 1D is the only one used for domestic departures and arrivals.

On the other hand, terminal 2 is for low-cost carriers.

5. Cape Town International Airport, South Africa

It is the international gateway to Cape Town metropolitan area in South Africa and the fifth busiest and most extensive in Africa.

Cape Town International Airport is a public airport operated by the airport company of South Africa.

It’s the only airport in the Cape Town metropolitan area providing scheduled passenger flight services.

The airport is a hub for Mango and FlySafair, and its focus is on South African Airways, providing direct access from South Africa to Johannesburg and Durban.


Location: Cape Town Airport lies in Matroosfontein, approximately 12 miles (20 km) southeast of the Cape city center.

  • Cape Town International Airport Terminals

The Cape Town international airport has both domestic and international terminals, and they are all linked in the central terminal.

  • Why the airport is the 5th largest in Africa

The airport terminal covers an area of 21,000m², of which 2,360m² is retail space.

Note: the terminal can process up to 1,300 passengers in one year.

  • Why it is the 5th busiest in Africa

It is among the busiest airport because it has scheduled passenger flights of 82.

Also, it handed an estimated number of 10,979,946 passengers in 2019.

6. Hurghada International Airport, Egypt

It is the largest and busiest airport in Africa, and it is the sixth in Africa and the second in Egypt.

Hurghada International Airport is a public one operating under the management of the country’s government.

It serves the Hurghada in Egypt while focusing only on Air Cairo city.   

Location of the Hurghada International Airport: It lies in the inland, 5 km (3.1 mi) southwest of El Dahar, the downtown of Hurghada, in Egypt.  

  • Why the Hurghada International Airport the sixth-largest in Africa

 It is the second-largest airport in Africa because its new terminal has 92,000 square meters on three levels.

  • Why it is the sixth busiest in Africa

According to the Egyptian aviation minister, the airport hosts up to 13 million visitors annually.

  • Hurghada International Airport Terminals

Currently, the airport has two passenger terminals.

The Arab Fund for Economic Development funded the two passenger terminals – Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 

Terminal 2 is the new one; it has an area of 92,000 square meters on three levels.

7. Algiers Houari Boumedine International Airport, Algeria

Algiers Houari Boumediene International Airport is also the largest and busiest airport in Africa and the seventh on the list.

The airport, also known as Algiers Airport or Algiers International Airport, took its name after the then-president of Algeria. 

As of now, it is the international airport serving Algiers, the capital of Algeria. 

Algiers Houari Boumediene, International Airport was once called  Maison Blanche Airport. 

It is the airport of a public company and the central hub for Air Algérie and Tassili Airlines.

Location of Algiers Houari Boumediene Airport: It lies in 9.1 NM (16.9 km; 10.5 mi) of east southeast of Algeria. 

It has a surface area of 73 hectares and currently accommodates an additional 10 million passengers per year. 

Also, the airport is capable of accommodating Airbus A380 type aircraft.

  • Why it is the 7th busiest in Africa

Boumediene Airport is the 7th busiest airport in Africa because its first terminal (domestic terminal) hosts up to 6 million passengers per year.

Also, the second terminal has a capacity of 2.5 million passengers per year.

The fourth has 120 check-in points, 84 check-in counters, nine conveyor belts, and 21 telescopic gateways.

Again the fourth terminal also has a surface area of 73 hectares which currently accommodates an additional 10 million.

As of 2016, the airport contains about 7,500,000 passengers, while it has 2,100 employees.

  • Houari Boumediene Airport Terminals

It has four terminals; the first is the domestic terminal, the second is the charter terminal, the third operates domestic flights only, while the fourth, opened in 2019, works in three different stages.

Casablanca Mohammed Airport ranks eighth among Africa’s most significant and busiest airports.

Interestingly, the airport is the hub for National Royal Air Maroc and the Air Arabia Maroc, named after the formal sultan of Morocco.

Location of the Airport: The airport lies in the southeast of Casablanca, Morocco.

  • Why the Casablanca airport the 8th largest in Africa

It is the seventh-largest because its terminals cover surface areas, such as 

– Terminal 1 covers a surface area of 40,000m²

– Terminal 2 covers a surface area of 66,000m²

– Terminal 3 covers a surface area of 4,000m²

  • Why it is the 8th busiest in Africa

It is the 8th largest because, as of 2019, the airport registers approximately 10,306,293 passengers.

In 2020 Casablanca Airport registered around 3,000,000 million passengers.

9. Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Nigeria

It is the top international airport of the capital city of Nigeria, Abuja, and the ninth busiest and largest African airport, with both international and domestic terminals sharing a single runway.

The international airport was built in 2000, named after the first president of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, and started functioning in 2002. 

Interestingly, the airport holds its pride among other airports in the country, as the international airport n the country.

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport functions under the management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Also, Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is a public airport that serves Abuja.

Again the airport is a hub for

– Arik Air

– Air Peace

– Overland Airways

– Ibom Air

– Aero Contractors 

Location of Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport Abuja: It sits approximately 20 km (12 mi) west of Abuja in the Federal Capital Territory.

  • Why the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is the 9th largest in Africa

It is the 9th largest because its meter size is 3,610 while its length is 11,844.

  • Why it is the 9th busiest in Africa

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is the ninth busiest airport in Africa because, in 2018, it recorded up to 4.88 million Passengers.

10. Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Nigeria

The airport is the tenth-largest and busiest airport in Africa and the main airport that serves the whole of Lagos state.

Fascinating enough, it was built during the Second World War and named after the fourth military ruler of Nigeria, Murtala Muhammed. 

Murtala Mohammed International Airport functions as a public airport under the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), serving Ikeja, Lagos, and Lekki.

Again the airport is a hub for the following airline:

– Aero Contractors

– Arik Air

– Azman Air

– Med-View Airline

– Air Peace

– Dana Air

– Ibom Air

Location of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport: FAAN Headquarters, Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria.

  • Why the Murtala Mohammed International Airport is the 10th largest in Africa

The airport has about 1,292 square miles, and its area square miles is 1,292 (3,345 square km).

 Also, it has a record for covering an approximate number of 5,367,23 Passengers.

  • Why it is the 10th busiest airport in Africa

Murtala Mohammed International Airport is the 10th busiest domestic in Africa because, in 2018, it hosted 64,898 aircraft movements and colossal passenger traffic. 

Also, in the same year, the airport records about 12.79 million people traveling on its domestic flights in Nigeria.

Which airport is the biggest and busiest in Africa?

The biggest and busiest airport in Africa is Tambo airport in Johannesburg. It hosts over 21 million travelers and visitors annually, capacity to process up to 28 million.

What are the largest airports in Africa?

The largest airports in Africa are:

1. Johannesburg International Airport, South Africa

2. Cairo International Airport, Egypt

3. Bole International Airport, Ethiopia

4. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya

5. Cape Town International Airport, South Africa

What is the main airport in Africa?

The main airport in Africa is the Tambo International Airport.

Final words

The total number of passenger flights has measured the busiest and largest airports in Africa, and all the data obtained is from the Airports Council.

Also, the above information will serve as reliable tools for those researching similar studies.

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