Top 30 Major and Busiest Airport in Europe
Europe hosts some of the most popular destinations around the globe. It is also home to the world’s superpowers like Russia, Germany, France, and United Kingdom. These factors make it home to some of the busiest airports in the world.
We have researched the top airports in Europe based on official passenger traffic statistics and found the following list of the top 30 major and busiest airports.
PS: The 30 airports are ranked according to the 2019 passenger traffic statistics (before the pandemic which greatly affected air traffic), starting with the one with the highest traffic.
1. London Heathrow Airport
Country: United Kingdom
Passenger traffic: 80,886,589
London Heathrow Airport is based in the United Kingdom and is the busiest airport in Europe and 2nd in the entire world.
The airport boasts the highest passenger traffic of 80.8 million in the whole of 2019. It boasts five terminals that serve flights to up to 185 destinations operated by 80 airlines. Most of this traffic is based on the fact that this airport attracts most of the foreign travelers in Europe and is the best way to fly into Europe.
Besides being the busiest airfield in Europe, Heathrow also boasts its place as one of the largest international airports in the world (to be more specific, it’s the 7th largest airport on the planet!).
2. Charles de Gaulle Airport
Passengers traffic: 76,150,007
Charles de Gaulle is the second busiest airport in Europe. Based in Paris, this airport is also the largest in France. It had a 5.4% increase in passenger traffic in 2019 compared to the previous year 2018.
The airport also goes by the name Roissy Airport and is one of the fastest-growing airfields in Europe. It ranks 10th on the list of the busiest airports worldwide, putting it not just on the European but also the world map of busiest airports.
3. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol
Passengers traffic: 71,707,144
Amsterdam is the largest airport in the Netherlands and the 3rd busiest in Europe. It recorded close to 72 million traffic in 2019, which was a +0.9% increase compared to the 71,053,157 traffic in 2018.
Its name “Schiphol” in Dutch means main port and describes the significant role this airport plays in Netherlands and Europe in general. It’s not just a gateway to the Netherlands but neighboring countries including Belgium and northern Germany.
Schiphol Airport serves all top European airlines—further cementing its place as one of the top airports in the region.
The airport is unique from other top airports in that it only features one massive terminal building which is split into 3 halls and up to 6 runways.
4. Frankfurt International Airport
Passengers traffic: 70,556,072
The Frankfurt Airport acts as the main hub for Lufthansa, German’s largest airline. It handled a total of 70,556,072 passengers in 2019, which was a 1.5% increases compared to 2018.
It ranks as the 15th busiest in the world, right after the Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. It’s also the largest German airport, which means it handles most of the country’s air traffic, hence ranking position 4 on top airports in Europe.
Frankfurt receives the high traffic for not only being an international travel hub but also being among the top airports that offer the most direct routes.
5. Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport
Passengers traffic: 61,734,037
This is the second largest airport in Europe after France’s Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. Amazingly, it’s also the busiest airport in Spain. And the 5th busiest air station in Europe.
The airport recorded a high traffic increase of up to +6.6% in 2019 compared to the traffic in the previous year. It has 4 terminals, with the 4th one having been installed in February 2006.
Also worth acknowledging are the many awards and praises this airfield has received following its unique architectural design.
Though this airport also underwent a complete lockdown in April 2020, it has been progressively reopening and operating on a super-strict air traffic schedule.
6. Josep Tarradellas Barcelona–El Prat Airport
Passengers traffic: 52,686,314
Here’s another busy airport from Spain! The Josep Tarradellas Barcelona airport received 52,686,314 passenger traffic in 2019. This is less than 10 million below its sister airport, the Adolfo Suárez.
Nonetheless, the 52.6 million traffic was a +5% growth from the year 2018. The airfield is the hub for the Spanish airline Vueling. It acts as the perfect gateway to the Mediterranean Sea and North of Spain.
One of the reasons this airfield sees busy days is that it’s based in Barcelona, the second-largest city in Spain. it also hosts multiple activities; you’ll come across a wide selection of coffee shops, ice cream kiosks, fast food outlets, bear and tapas bars sandwich, and so much more.
7. Istanbul Airport
Passengers traffic: 52,009,220
Istanbul was just opened in 2019 and it quickly beat all odds to become the busiest airport in Turkey and the 7th busiest in Europe. The airfield replaced the Istanbul Atatürk Airport for scheduled commercial passenger flights.
Something interesting about this airport is that it’s projected to become Europe’s No.1 busiest airport—their goal is to make the airport accommodate a fantastic figure of 200 million passengers a year! This is highly possible given that this is a pretty large airport with a surface area of 76.6 km2.
The construction of Istanbul Airport is expected to take place in phases, expanding it and its facilities over time. Once fully completed by 2025, it will feature 6 sets of runways, 16 taxiways, and 150 million annual passenger capacity.
If fully extended to 200-million passenger capacity, it will feature 4 terminal buildings with interconnecting rail access combining to offer a total indoor area of34,000,000 sq. ft.
8. Sheremetyevo International Airport
Passengers traffic: 49,438,545
Russia’s Sheremetyevo International Airport prides itself as one of the major airports in Europe. And one of the fastest-growing airports, having recorded a high passenger volume increase of +9% in 2019 from the previous year.
Sheremetyevo is also the busiest airport in Russia according to the 2019 passenger traffic stats. It’s one of the 4 top airports that serve Moscow, Russia. It also plays the main hub for Aeroflot, the country’s national air carrier.
The airport was initially a military airbase and was converted to a civilian airfield in 1959. It comprises 6 terminals: one private, one domestic, and 4 international terminals.
9. Munich Airport
Passengers traffic: 47,941,348
Munich is the second top airfield in Germany after Frankfurt. It is also the 9th busiest European airport, having handled passenger traffic of over 47.9 million in 2019. This is significant growth from the previous year’s traffic figure (growth of +3.6%).
Just like Frankfurt, Munich Airport also serves as a hub for Lufthansa airlines and all its subsidiaries which include Eurowings, Air Dolomiti, and Lufthansa CityLine.
The 9th busiest airfield in Europe has 2 passenger terminals plus a midfield terminal, 2 runways, and extensive cargo and maintenance facilities. It is fully equipped to handle wide-body aircraft like the Airbus A380.
10. Gatwick Airport
Country: United Kingdom
Passengers traffic: 46,574,786
This is the second airport from the United Kingdom showing up among the top 10 busiest airports in Europe. It’s also the second busiest in the country, after Heathrow.
Gatwick received 46.5 million traffic in 2019 which represents a +1.1% increase in passenger traffic.
One surprising thing about the London Gatwick is that it features only one runway, despite being one of the busiest airports. A 2nd runway exists but can’t be used due to its proximity to the main runway.
Gatwick Airport is made up of two terminals, the North Terminal with an area of 98,000 m2 and the South Terminal covering an area of 160,000 m2.
11. Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport
Passengers traffic: 43,532,573
This Italy-based airport is the 3rd largest in Europe in terms of size. It is also among the busiest airports as it received 43.5 million passengers in 2019, a slight increase of +1.3% from 42,995,119 passengers in 2018.
One of the things worth noting about this Rome airport is that it was the first to earn a 5-star covid-19 rating for airports. That’s no mean achievement! It shows the airport has rolled out great measures to ensure the safety of their passengers at a time when then the entire world is living in fear of a pandemic.
The airport serves as the main hub for Alitalia, the flag carrier and largest Italian airline. It also serves Vueling, the low-cost Spanish airline.
12. Dublin Airport
Passengers traffic: 32,907,673
Dublin Airport managed an air traffic volume of 32.9 million in 2019—setting a new record for the busiest year in its history. This impressive figure makes this airfield one of the major players in European air travel.
The airport serves Dublin, the capital city of Ireland, and is the busiest in the country. It hosts flights from more than 20 airlines, including the top air carriers like Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, United, Delta, KLM, and more.
It also acts as the headquarters of the Irelands flag carrier (the Aer Lingus), Ryanair (Europe’s largest low-cost carrier), and ASL Airlines Ireland.
Dublin Airport is a favorite for many foreign travelers due to its strategic location, with the capital city being only 7km away.
Dublin is also one of the two European airports and a total of 3 non-American airports offering the United States border preclearance services for US-bound passengers.
13. Orly Airport
Passengers traffic: 31,853,049
Another one from France! Paris Orly Airport is another major airport in Europe. Located south of Paris, France’s capital, this airport handled up to 31,853,049. Though this was a big drop from 33,120,685 in 2018, it still gets the 13th position.
The airport serves as a secondary hub for domestic as well as overseas flights of Air France, the flag carrier France airline. It also serves as the home base for Transavia France.
Flights from this airport operate to top destinations around the world like Europe, North America, the Caribbean, and Middle, East Africa.
While Charles de Gaulle is the busiest airport in France for international traffic, Orly is the busiest for domestic traffic.
14. Vienna International Airport
Passengers traffic: 31,662,189
At position 14, we have the Vienna Intentional Airport, the top airport in Vienna, the capital of Austria.
International travels choose this airport as the perfect gateway into Europe owing to its convenient central geographical location into the heart of Europe. Not forgetting the excellent range of services you’ll find on the premises.
Austria’s largest airport is a hub for Austrian Airlines and the low-cost Ryanair and Wizz Air carriers. It can handle wide-body vessels like the Airbus 380!
Unlike most of the airports in Europe, Vienna airport offers ALL their travelers free WiFi as a generous gesture. This is sure to make traveling through this airport a truly pleasant experience.
15. Zurich Airport
Passengers traffic: 31,507,692
Halfway through our list, we have the Zurich Airport as one of the busiest airports in Europe. It handled 31.5 million passengers in 2019, a slight increase from 31.1 million passengers in 2018.
As the largest international airport in Switzerland, this airfield also serves as the central hub for Swiss Int’l Air Lines.
For the infrastructure part, this airport has 3 terminals (labeled A, B, and E. It also has 3 runways.
Besides being among the busiest airports in Europe, Zurich Airport also serves Zurich, the country’s capital via ground transport links
16. Lisbon Airport
Passengers traffic: 31,173,000
Portugal also contributes to Europe’s busiest airports with Lisbon Airport or Portela Airport. The international airport sits in Lisbon, the capital of the country, and acts as the main intentional gateway to Portugal.
The airport witnessed 31,173,000 in 2019 which is a significant (+7.4%) increase from the previous year. Moreover, it handled cargo volume amounting to141 thousand tons in the same year. This further justifies its place as the 16th busiest airport in Europe.
The airport is the main hub of Portugal's flag carrier airline, TAP Air Portugal, as well as its subsidiaries.
Note that this is the 20th largest airport in Europe. The Portugal government unveiled a 1.1 billion-euro plan to expand this airport in 2019. This is projected to raise the passenger volume to 50 million which will rank the airport higher up on this list, probably a year from 2022.
17. Copenhagen Airport
Passengers traffic: 30,256,703
Having handled close to 30.3 million passengers in 2019, Copenhagen Airport appears in the top 20 busiest airports in Europe. Most of these passengers are international.
The international airport is the largest in Denmark and among the oldest in Europe. It serves as the main airport for Copenhagen city, Denmark, and neighboring Zealand. Since it is located on Amager island, landing here would be a thrilling experience as you’ll get to enjoy spectacular views.
The international airport plays the role of a central hub for Scandinavian air carriers (SAS) that offer great connections to various cities in the US. It also acts as a home base for Norwegian Air Shuttle and Sunclass Airlines.
18. Palma de Mallorca Airport
Passengers traffic: 29,721,123
Palma de Mallorca Airport also goes by the name Son Sant Joan Airport. It is an international airport located in Palma, Mallorca—the capital, as well as the largest city of Spain’s Balearic Islands.
The airport served a total of 29.7 million passengers in 2019, which won it the 18th position for the busiest airports in Europe. The airfield is the main base for Air Europa, the Spain carrier. It is also a focus airport for low-cost carriers like Vueling, Jet2.com, EasyJet, and Ryanair.
Note that Palma de Mallorca Airport shares a runway with the Son Sant Joan Air Force Base that’s operated by Spanish Air Force.
19. Manchester Airport
Country: United Kingdom
Passengers traffic: 29,367,477
This is the 3rd busiest airport in the United Kingdom and the 19th busiest European airport. Located in Ringway, Manchester, England, the airfield handled passengers close to 30 million, ranking it as the 3rd busiest in the United Kingdom.
Manchester airport is made up of 3 passenger terminals plus one cargo terminal. It falls in the same class as Heathrow as the only airport operating two runways. It has a flight to 199 destinations, placing it at position 13 on the global mark for the number of destinations served.
Currently, the airport is undergoing a £1 billion expansion program aimed to double the size of terminal 2 and boost its passenger traffic to 35 million by 2024!
20. Malpensa Airport
Passengers traffic: 28,846,299
At the 20th position for the major airports in Europe, we have Italy’s Malpensa Airport. This is the largest airport in Milan metropolitan area in Northern Italy.
This international airport handled 28.8 million passengers in 2019. This high passenger volume also makes it the 2nd busiest airport in Italy after Leonardo da Vinci International Airport.
The airport has two terminals, 2 runways, and a dedicated cargo terminal
To date, the airport remains the second busiest in Italy and the busiest for cargo and freight—handling as high as 500plus tons of international freight annually.
21. Oslo Airport, Gardermoen
Passengers traffic: 28,592,619
Oslo Airport also features on our list of the top 30 major and busiest airports in Europe. The international airport is located in Oslo, the capital of Norway, and the most populous city in the country.
The airport received 28.5 million passengers in 2019 which was a slight increase (+0.3%) from the 28,518,584 passengers traffic in 2018. It’s a hub for multiple Norwegian airlines including Flyr AS, Scandinavia Airlines, Norwegian Air shuttle, Wizz Air, and Widerøe.
Alternatively known as Oslo Gardermoen Airport, this airport connecting up to 26 domestic destinations and a whopping 158 international destinations.
It’s made up of two parallel runways and up to 71 air stands, 50 of which have jet bridges. A high-speed railway connects this airport to the city center.
22. Domodedovo International Airport
Passengers traffic: 28,252,337
Domodedovo is one of the 4 major airports serving Moscow. It is one of the largest airports in Russia and the 22nd busiest airfield in Europe. From 2019 statistics, the airport managed 28.2 million passengers traffic.
Domodedovo is Russia’s first-ever airport to feature parallel runways that operate simultaneously. Since the air control tower redevelopment in 2003, this airport can control 70plus takeoffs and landings an hour.
Some of the facilities you’ll enjoy in this airport include duty-free shops, a hotel located inside the airport terminal, and 5 business lounges set up by individual airlines namely British Airways, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, and Swiss Airlines.
23. London Stansted Airport
Country: United Kingdom
Passengers traffic: 28,124,292
London Stansted Airport is the 4th airport on our list from the UK, and the 23rd busiest airport in the whole of Europe. The international airport received 28.1 million passengers in 2019; an increase from 2018’s 27,995,121 passengers.
Located in Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, UK, this international airport serves as many as 160 destinations across Europe, Africa, and Asia. It also serves as a base for several low-cost European carriers. Case in point, it’s the largest base for Rynaiar low-cost airline—with the airline serving over 100 destinations.
Also worth noting is that the airport’s runway is also utilized by private companies like XJet terminals, Titan Airways, and Harrods Aviation. These are private handlers capable of handling charter flights, private flights, and state visits.
24. Brussels Airport
Passengers traffic: 26,360,003
In 2019, over 26 million passengers arrived/departed from Brussels Airport—a high volume that puts the airport in the 24th spot on our list of the busiest airports in Europe.
The airport is the home base for Brussels Airlines, the largest airline of Belgium, as well as TUI fly Belgium. It is also home to about 206 companies that jointly employ a total of 20,000 people.
In terms of infrastructure, this airport uses only one terminal concept, bringing together all its facilities under one roof. The terminal building features several levels. The railway station is located at level -1, taxis at level 0, arrivals at level 2, and departures and level 3.
25. Stockholm Arlanda Airport
Passengers traffic: 25,642,703
Stockholm Arlanda Airport also made it to our list with its fantastic passenger volume of 25.6 million in 2019. In the previous year 2018, it received 26.8 million. And in the year 2017, it handled up to 27 million. These consistent figures prove it’s one of the busiest airports in Europe.
The highest percentage of this passenger traffic is from intentional travelers while the remaining small percentage is made of up domestic travelers.
The Arlanda Airport is Sweden’s largest airport that sits in the Sigtuma municipality in Sweden. It’s also the 3rd largest airport in the Nordic countries. It serves as the principal hub for Scandinavian Airlines as well as the Norwegian Air Shuttle.
26. Athens International Airport
Passengers traffic: 25,574,030
Athens International Airport is a member of the ‘Group of Airports Council International,’ meaning it receives over 25 million passengers. As of 2019, it handled 25.5 million passengers that qualify it as a top airfield in Europe.
The airport is the largest in Greece. Unlike most of the airports on this list, this airport began operations recently, on 28th March 2001, and serves the Athens city as well as the Attica region.
27. Düsseldorf Airport
Passengers traffic: 25,507,566
As we edge closer to the end of our list, we have this German Düsseldorf Airport among the top air stations in Europe. It is the largest airport in Germany after Frankfurt and Munich.
In 2019, the airport received 25.5 million passengers traffic, which puts it on the map of busiest European airports. It serves as a hub for Eurowings GmbH, a German low-cost carrier, and a central city for a variety of other airlines.
Düsseldorf Airport comprises 3 passenger terminals and two runways. Like the other German airports mentioned earlier, it can also handle wide-body aircrafts.
28. Berlin Tegel Airport
Passengers traffic: 24,227,570
Berlin Tegel handles also handled massive passenger traffic of 24.2 million in 2019, qualifying it as one of the busiest airports in Europe. This traffic was a significant increase of 2,227,140 (+10.1%) from 2018’s 22,000,430 traffic.
The airport is known for its hexagonal main terminal building around open square which makes the walking distance from aircraft to terminal exit as short as 30m.
NOTICE: Tegel Airport saw its last flight on 8th November 2020 after all its traffic was gradually transferred to the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport up to date. The airport grounds will be redeveloped into a new city quarter for industrial and scientific research under the name Urban Tech Republic.
29. Vnukovo International Airport
Passengers traffic: 24,001,521
Vnukovo is one of the major airports serving Moscow alongside the Zhukovsky, Sheremetyevo, and Domodedovo airports. The airport received a total of 24 million passengers traffic—a significant increase of up to +12% from the previous year.
Vnukovo features a dual runway—runway 01 and runway 24. The joint capacity of the two runways is up to 60 aircraft movements every hour. Runway 01 is mostly used for landings while runway 24 is mainly for departures.
It’s made up of two terminals (A and B), a passenger terminal, a general aviation terminal, and a cargo terminal, and a total of 60 airplane stands.
30. Helsinki Airport
Passengers traffic: 21,861,082
The Helsinki Airport won our last spot having recorded a whopping 21.8 million passengers traffic in 2019 alone. Out of these, only 2.9 were domestic passengers and the remaining 18.9 million were international passengers.
The busy airport has up to 50 airlines in regular operation. It also features about 80 scheduled destinations to other European countries and 21 direct long-haul routes to North America, the middle east, and Asia. Above all this, it has 36 charter destinations which include long-haul charter destinations.
The 30th business European airfield has two terminals, with a maximum of 50 gates with jet bridges plus 80 remote aircraft parking stands.
That’s it for the top 30 busiest airports in Europe. As you can easily see from this list, the busiest airfields in the region are evenly spread across various European counties, though major countries like United Kingdom, Russia, France, and Germany have more than one featured major airports. All the 30 airports received tens of millions of passenger traffic in 2019 and the previous years.
Which of these top airports would you pick as your gateway to Europe?