The World’s Most Unique Airports


From the busiest to the most dangerous to the most expensive, EXEC brings you the most unique airports in the world.
The Busiest

Located seven miles south of the business district of Atlanta, Georgia, United States, the Hartsfiled-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the busiest considering the number of passengers and take-offs since 1999 and has a total of 199 domestic and international gates. Ranked seventh as an International gateway to United States, Hartsfiled Jackson accommodated 89 million passengers daily and 950 119 flights in 2010.

This primary hub of Air Tran, Airways Delta and Delta Connection partner Express Jet has international service to North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. With nearly one million domestic flights the airport grounds touch the city limits of Atlanta, College Park and Hapeville. The airport also serves as a major hub for travel for the Southeastern States of US.

Most Dangerous

Princess Juliana International Airport

This second busiest airport in northeast Caribbean situated in the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin islands is also known as Sint Maarten International Airport and is one of the four constituent countries that form the Kingdom of Netherlands. The airport was initially used as a military airstrip and was converted in to a civilian airport in 1943. . Known for its short landing strips of 2180 metres /7152 metres, heavy jets do not land here. With no record of aviation accidents, planes fly at 10-20 m/30-60 ft over tourists at the Maho beach.

Additional fencing was added to shield the tourists who would cling to the fences of the runway to be blown into the water. The design of the airport might attract plane spotters but is always a threat to hundreds of lives at the beach and the passengers of the planes that take off or land.

Most Beautiful

Beijing International Airport, Beijing, China

The addition of Terminal 3 to the Beijing International Airport, before the 2008 Summer Olympic games, has resulted in this airport being considered as the most beautiful airport in the world. Completed in three years and designed by Norman Foster, a British architect, it’s aerodynamic roof and dragon-like shape celebrates the joy of flying and brings to mind traditional Chinese colour schemes of gold and red and symbols.

The two-mile long terminal is hailed as one of the largest buildings in the world with 986,000 square metres (10,610,000 sq ft) in total floor area at its opening. The terminal has skylights and the colour schemes change from red to yellow with the passenger’s progress through the building and help them to navigate through the terminal. Sunlight filters in the red and yellow zones of the high ceilings are colour coded.

Most Expensive

Hong Kong International Airport, Chep Lap Lok Island, Hong Kong

A $20 billion dollar construction ensured Hong Kong International Airport’s place in the Guinness Book World Records and in 2007 it had more than 47 million passengers. However another airport might soon beat this record. The Dubai World Central- Al Maktoum International, being constructed South of Dubai near Jebel Ali costs $33 billion dollar for infrastructure alone. The airport, which will be able to accommodate jumbo jets to shopping malls, eighteen golf courses and a residential city with a capacity to house 75,0000 people. Officially named Al Maktoum International Airport after the late Sheikh Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the former ruler of Dubai, it is a part of Dubai World Central a planned residential, commercial and logistics complex scheme.

The Oldest

College Park Airport, College Park, Maryland, USA

Established in august 1909 and located in the city of College Park, Maryland, USA the College Park Airport lies near a residential area. Established by the United States Army Signal Corps the airport was a training ground where Wilbur Wright instructed two military officers Frederic Humphreys and Franl Lahm to fly in government’s first aeroplane and by December 1911 civilian aircraft began flying from this airport with Rex Smith of the Rex Smith Aeroplane Company. Home to the earliest people in aviation it has about 110 aircrafts stationed.

Purchased by the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) in 1973, the airport was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. The 27,000 sq ft College Park Aviation Museum exhibits its History as the airport continues to be run as a historic site and world’s oldest continuously operated airport. Post 9/11 the operations have been restricted for its proximity to Washington D.C although civilian pilots still use it after a one time background check procedure.

Largest Miniature

The Miniature Knuffingen Airport, Hamburg, Germany

Located in Wunderland Museum and also known as the Minature Wonderland, this model airport was built over six years by twin brothers Frederik and Gerrit Brawn and has 40,000 lights, 15,000 figurines, 500 cars, 10,000 trees, 50 trains, 1000 wagons, 100 signals, 200 switches, 300 buildings and 40 operational miniature planes. This airport cost 3.5 million Euros. The airport is a reproduction of Hamburg’s international airport and includes 40 aircrafts that take off and land and 90 vehicles that autonomously move around the runways.

The Strangest

Kansai International Airport, Osaka, Japan

Travellers have to get to the airport from the island of Honshu via car to this Airport located in Osaka Bay via car, railroad or high-speed ferry. The artificial island of Kansai, 2.5 miles in length and 1.6 miles wide, is visible from space. Stewart Schreckengast, a professor of aviation technology at Purdue University warns about the airport’s extinction due to the rising sea levels as within fifty years the island might be underwater.

World’s Highest Altitude Airport

Airport in Nagqu prefecture, Tibet

Bamda Airport in Tibet’s Qamdo prefecture will lose its position as the world’s highest altitude airport to an airport being constructed in Nagqu prefecture in central Tibet. While China plans to add more flights this year to link cities of Tibet and the plateau region with the cities nationwide, this 4,436 metres high airport, higher than Bamda Airport by 102 metres is being built at an estimate of 1.8 billion Yuan ($ 286 million) and should be able to manage 2.2 million passengers and 15,000 tonnes of cargo. The new infrastructure designed to cover an area of up to 267 hectares that would encourage Chinese businesses to invest in Tibet is an apprehension for many Tibetans as they feel that increasing number of Chinese migrants will restrict employment opportunities for the local people.

Conspiracy Theory:

The Denver International Airport has been subject to conspiracy theories since it opened in 1995 because of the mysterious death of Philip Schneider, a structural engineer turned whistle blower who suggested that airport has a military base or a concentration camp beneath it. Some theorists insist that the runways of the airport, when seen from an aerial view, resemble a Swastika.

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