The Cities That Have The Most Commercial Airports
Many cities have more than one airport. These have come about for different reasons – often to cater to expansions in demand for aviation, but also to serve different airlines or city districts. London and New York top the list with six commercial airports each, but which other cities have multiple airports?
London with six airports
London and New York both operate six commercial airports – we give London the top spot in the list as (in normal times) it reports higher total passenger volume. London Heathrow and Gatwick are the largest airports, but London also has the centrally located London City as well as lower-cost focussed London Stansted, Luton, and Southend airports.
Heathrow is joined by five other airports – in different locations and with different purposes. Photo: Getty Images
Heathrow is joined by five other airports – in different locations and with different purposes. Heathrow is the largest of the airports. It has its origins back in 1930 when the private Great West Aerodrome opened for flight testing. It opened as a commercial civilian airport (London Airport) in 1946, replacing Croydon airport as the main airport for London. Gatwick Airport arrived in 1958 (with London Airport renamed Heathrow). London City Airport opened only in 1987. to serve the regenerated city area. With these six airports, London is the busiest city for air travel globally. Just Heathrow and Gatwick combined account for over 127 million passengers,based on Airports Council International (ACI) data for 2019. Adding in the other airports takes this up to 175 million. Pre-COVID, expansion plans were in place at several airports, including the long-planned and controversial third runway for Heathrow.
New York also has six airports
New York City also claims six commercial airports. The three main airports are Newark-Liberty (EWR), LaGuardia (LGA), and John F. Kennedy International (JFK). But three others within a reasonable distance of the city also have scheduled flights – Long Island MacArthur Airport, New York Stewart International Airport, and Westchester County Airport.
New York City is served by three main airports and three smaller, more distant ones. We appreciate some of these may be controversial in saying they serve New York – indeed, New York Stewart International Airport (around 115 km/71.5 miles north of New York) makes our list of airports that are furthest away from the cities they serve. The background of New York’s three main airports is partly historical and partly functional. LaGuardia opened as a private airfield in 1929 and as a commercial airport in 1939. Newark Liberty International Airport opened (as Newark Metropolitan Airport) in 1928. It was built as the first airport serving New York and was the busiest commercial airport in the world in the pre-war years. JFK opened in 1948 (as New York International Airport) as air traffic expanded and other airports were at capacity. As well as allowing more capacity, these different airports have evolved to serve different areas and act as hubs for different airlines. Newark acts as a hub for United Airlines, while JFK serves American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and JetBlue.
Four and five airports in California, United States
Several other US cities have multiple airports. Again, this is often partly historical and partly through geographic expansion. City centers have added additional airports to allow expansion in constrained areas, and other outlying airports have come onboard to offer useful scheduled connections as traffic has increased. After New York, Los Angles has the most airports, with five airports close to the city. Los Angeles International (LAX) is clearly the largest, but the greater Los Angeles area is also served by Long Beach Airport, Ontario International Airport, Burbank Airport, and John Wayne Airport. ]LAX is the largest airport, but four others serve the greater city area.
LAX is a key international gateway. Photo: Getty Images
San Francisco has the main San Francisco International Airport (SFO), plus San Jose International Airport and Oakland International Airport. The smaller, domestic only, Charles M. Schulz–Sonoma County Airport takes up to four. Miami and Boston also have four airports.
Four airports for Tokyo, Moscow, and Stockholm
Outside the US, there are a few cities that claim four airports. Moscow has four busy international airports, all within around 40 kilometers of the city. The largest are Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO) and Domodedovo International Airport (DME), plus the smaller airports of Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA) and Vnukovo International Airport (VKO).
Tokyo is an interesting case, with two major international airports (Narita and Haneda), as well as two much smaller ones, Ibaraki and Chofu. Ibaraki Aiport is further from the center and serves as a low-cost airport for domestic and regional flights. Chofu Airport is a small, central airport with limited scheduled services to the Izu Islands. And to complete the list, Stockholm also claims four commercial airports. The main international Stockholm Arlanda Airport is joined by Bromma Airport, Skavsta Airport, and Vasteras Airport.
There are, of course, different ways you can look at the total number of airports. Here, we have looked at airports close to a major city (even if outside the city boundaries) that have regular scheduled flights. There are many others that make the list if we include two or three airports. Feel free to discuss this further in the comments.
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