If you’re into travel and commercial aviation, it’s likely that you’re aware of both the largest and busiest airports in the world. You’ve likely transited many of them over the years. But what about airline variety? It occurred to me that it’d be interesting to know which airport serves the most airlines (or is served by the most airlines, depending on how you want to look at it).
Busy Doesn’t Always Mean Airline Variety
Just to be clear, I’m not talking about most flights or most destinations. There are airlines that serve an impressive number of destinations (I believe Turkish serves over 100 international airports), and airports with an excellent number of nonstop options. But these could all be the same airline, in theory.
Consider Atlanta, (in)famous fortress hub for Delta Air Lines. As of last year, it still handles the most passengers on an annual basis, with nearly 120 million people passing through. It’ll likely be overtaken at some point by Beijing’s airport. But for now, ATL reigns supreme.
However, this passenger volume is handled by just 21 airlines. Yes. You read that right. Even if I add in the regional brands (United Express, Delta Connect, and American Eagle), this only comes to 24 unique passenger airlines. Atlanta isn’t even on the map when it comes to the number of unique airlines. Thanks, Delta.
Which Airport Serves The Most Airlines?
Since there wasn’t an immediate, definitive answer, I was left to do my own research into which airport serves the most airlines (hence the post!). Given that most large U.S. airports are hubs for the “Big 3”, there was little doubt in my mind that this airport would be outside the U.S. Some of my initial guesses included London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Dubai International Airport, and Hong Kong International Airport. These are all large hubs for a major national airline, but they also have significant traffic from other airlines. I also thought New York – JFK might be the only U.S. contender.
To answer my question, though, I systematically searched Wikipedia. Yup. That’s as definitive as it gets. To be honest, though, there’s actually a wealth of airport and airline information on Wikipedia, and I find that people keep the pages up to date.
I settled on pulling the airline data for several large airports from each region in the world. Each Wikipedia page has a handy table, and it was a cinch to pull into Excel and count the number of airline entries.
So…which airport serves the most airlines? Do you have your own guesses? Here are the results:
Airports Serving the Most Airlines By Region
- New York Kennedy (JFK): 79
- Los Angeles (LAX): 70
- Miami (MIA): 54
- San Francisco (SFO): 53
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD): 52
- Toronto Pearson (YYZ): 46
- Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG): 105
- Rome Fiumicinio (FCO): 97
- Frankfurt (FRA): 92
- London Heathrow: 80
- Madrid (MAD): 78
- Amsterdam: 77
- Bangkok (BKK): 99
- Shanghai Pudong (PVG): 90
- Singapore Changi (SIN): 81
- Hong Kong (HKG): 80
- Dubai (DXB): 80
- Guangzhou (CAN): 74
- Tel Aviv Ben Gurion: 74
- Delhi (DEL): 66
- Beijing Capital (PEK): 66
- Kuala Lumpur (KUL): 61
- Sydney (SYD): 49
- Sao Paulo (GRU): 39
The airport that serves the most airlines is…Paris Charles de Gaulle!
To be honest, I’m not incredibly surprised. After Heathrow, Charles de Gaulle is the next busiest airport on the continent. But it doesn’t have the slot issues that Heathrow does, and there are a number of airlines that serve other London area airports in lieu of Heathrow. Also, consider the past French imperialism within Africa. This results in a number of unique airline connections. Plus, France is simply the most visited country in the world.
Note that I didn’t count cargo carriers. My only interest was in the number of passenger airlines.
Although New York’s JFK is a decent contender for the airport that serves the most airlines, it definitely falls short of so many others around the world. The one that surprised me the most out of all that I looked at was Bangkok. With a whopping 99 airlines serving it, it overshadows all of the larger hub airports in the region. Rome Fiumicino was a bit of a dark horse as well, with it’s 97 airlines. The top airports in Europe, Asia, and North America are served by 105, 99, and 79 airlines, respectively.
It’s sad that I only looked at two airports in other areas of the world, but the reality is that there simply isn’t as much traffic within Africa, Australia, or South America as the other continents.
Are you surprised that Charles de Gaulle is the airport serving the most airlines?