Have you ever wondered which airports have the most passengers? If you have traveled by plane, you have probably come across at least one crowded airport. In this article, we are talking specifically about European airports. Many of them are either the main airport in their country or offer flights to destinations around the globe, which is why they have a great number of passengers every day.
In addition, European airports are connected by numerous low-cost airlines, which contributes to increasing arrivals and departures.
So which are the most crowded airports in Europe? Let’s find out!
NOTE: The following ranking is based on data collected by the Airports Council International (ACI) with the latest update (2019). These data take into account arriving passengers, departing passengers, and those in direct transit.
|Airport||Where is it||No. of passengers/year|
|Heathrow Airport||London, UK||80.886.589|
|Charles De Gaulle Airport||Paris, France||76.150.007|
|Schiphol Airport||Amsterdam, Holland||71.707.144|
|Frankfurt am Main Airport||Frankfurt, Germany||70,556,072|
|Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas||Madrid, Spain||61.734.037|
|Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas||Barcelona, Spain||52,686,314|
|Ataturk Istanbul Airport||Istanbul, Turkey||52.578.008|
|Sheremetyevo Airport||Mosk Russia||49.438.545|
|München Franz Josef Strauß Airport||Munich, Germany||47.941.348|
|Gatwick Airport||London, UK||46.574.786|
|Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport||Rome Italy||43,532,573|
|Dublin Airport||Dublin, Ireland||32.907.673|
|Orly Airport||Paris, France||32.907.673|
|Vienna Airport||Vienna, Austria||31,853,049|
|Zurich Airport||Zurich, Switzerland||31.507.692|
|Humberto Delgado Airport||Lisbon, Portugal||31,173,000|
|Kastrup Airport||Copenhagen, Denmark||30.256.703|
|Palma de Mallorca Airport||Palma de Mallorca, Spain||29.721.123|
|Manchester Airport||Manchester, UK||29,367,477|
|Malpensa Airport||Milan, Italy||28.846.299|
20. Malpensa Airport, Milan
We’ll start the ranking with the Italian airport, Malpensa Airport, located in the province of Varese. It’s one of the three airports in Milan with over 28,000,000 passengers annually.
It’s the hub of Air Italy and Neos airlines and a base of the companies Alitalia, EasyJet, Blue Panorama, Ryanair, and Ernest Airlines from which numerous charter, scheduled, and low-cost flights occur every day. In addition, Malpensa is the main Italian airport for freight traffic.
19. Manchester Airport, Manchester
With traffic higher than the previous one, the Manchester airport comes right after Malpensa with over 29,000,000 annual passengers.
This airport is not the hub of any airline but there are numerous daily flights from all over the UK and Europe since it’s a major city in the UK and there are a lot of visitors coming for football reasons. And, since both teams of the city are very popular, the airport is one of the busiest in Europe.
18. Palma de Mallorca Airport, Palma de Mallorca
This airport is also not the hub of any airline but there is a significant amount of flights from all over Europe daily, especially in summer. Mallorca is in fact a splendid Spanish island that attracts numerous European visitors every year, including from Spain. Although you can also reach the island by ship, many people prefer to reach it via a short flight to its main city, Palma de Mallorca.
An important factor that makes this airport one of the busiest in Europe is the fact that it is served by low-cost airlines. This is enough to attract many travelers and receive over 29,000,000 annually.
17. Kastrup Airport, Copenhagen
Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, the main arrival point in the country, and the most visited Danish city due to being one of the most touristic European capitals. No wonder this airport is among the busiest in Europe.
Kastrup Airport is also the hub of the Scandinavian Airlines System and Jet Time airlines. Plus, there are numerous daily flights from various low-cost airlines, which obviously increases passenger traffic.
16. Humberto Delgado Airport, Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal. Although the elongated shape of the country allows for magnificent traveling trips from the far south to the far north and vice versa, many travelers still prefer to start their journey from the capital, especially because it’s chosen as a weekend destination.
That makes the Humberto Delgado Airport the main arrival point in Portugal. It’s also the hub of the national airline TAP and its associated company TAP Express, the base of the low-cost airlines Ryanair and EasyJet, and an important stopover for Azores Airlines, EuroAtlantic Airways, Hi Fly, Orbest, Vueling, and White Airways.
15. Zurich Airport, Zurich
Zurich Airport is the main Swiss airport and holds the title of the best airport in Europe.
It has always been the hub of the Swiss national airline. Since it was taken over by Lufthansa to prevent bankruptcy, the airport has also become the third hub of this company, thus reaching annual passenger traffic of over 31,000.000. This airport is also the base of the companies Belair, Edelweiss Air, Helvetic Airways, and Rega (Swiss Air Rescue Organization).
14. Vienna Airport, Vienna
The airport of the Austrian capital is the main airport in the country. Also, due to being close to Bratislava, it is often used to reach Slovakia. In 2004, works for expanding and construction of a new terminal have started to allow handling of a greater number of passengers.
Furthermore, it’s the hub of the national airline Austrian Airlines and a stopping point and base of many low-cost flights. All these factors have contributed to placing it among the busiest airports in Europe with a total of over 31,800,000 passengers per year.
13. Orly Airport, Paris
Paris has 6 airports but only 2 are the main arrival points in the city. Orly Airport is one of them with an annual number of passengers of almost 33.000.000, which ranks among the busiest in France and Europe.
The great number of passengers is because this airport is the hub of multiple airlines (Aigle Azur, Air France, Corsairfly, EasyJet, OpernSkies, and Transavia France) as well as a base of the Vueling company. It’s used for national and international flights to European and world destinations, especially to the Middle East and North Africa.
12. Dublin Airport, Dublin
Dublin Airport is the only one in the city and the main arrival point in Ireland because the shape of the Irish territory allows for trips on the road that often inevitably start and end in the capital.
The annual traffic of almost 33,000,000 passengers depends on several factors. The first one is that the airport is the base of the largest low-cost airline in Europe, Ryanair. Also, it’s the base and main hub of the national airline Aer Lingus. In addition, the Dublin Airport enjoys a wide network of flights with the United Kingdom (especially with London) and an equally wide network of connections with the United States, Canada, Bahrain, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi, the countries of North Africa, South Africa, and the Canary Islands.
11. Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, Rome
This is the second Italian airport in this ranking with a higher annual number of passengers than the previous, Malpensa Airport. Fiumicino Airport is the main airport of Rome, 30 km from it, with 43.500.000 passengers per year. It’s not only one the busiest in Europe but also the busiest one in Italy for the number of travelers and the second-busiest stop for freight traffic in Italy.
Needless to say, those who visit this country don’t forget to visit the beautiful capital and often the trips start right here. The 105 companies that operate in the airport also contribute to the high amount of passengers offering national and international flights to all European countries and worldwide. It’s the main hub of Alitalia and the secondary hub of Vueling. It’s also the operational base of CityLiner, Ryanair, Blue Panorama, Norwegian Air, and Neos.
10. Gatwick Airport, London
Some of the London airports can only be among the busiest airports in Europe. Gatwick Airport is the second most important airport in London with 46.500.000 passengers every year.
This is because it is the hub of the national airline, British Airways, and one of the most chosen low-cost airlines, Easyjet, both of which bring high traffic to the airport thanks to their national and international flights. It is also the base of Air Partner, a company that deals with private jets and commercial aircraft.
9. München Franz Josef Strauß Airport, Munich
As far as Germany is concerned, you will be amazed to find that the airport of Munich is one of the most crowded airports in the country, not that of Berlin. This airport has around 48.000.000 passengers a year compared to Berlin’s 22.000.000, so you can’t compare the two.
This happens because it’s one of the hubs of the German company Lufthansa, which is one of the most chosen airlines in the world with several flights arriving and departing every day to and from all over Germany, as well as international and intercontinental flights.
8. Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow
The Russian capital, Moscow, has millions of visitors every year. Among the various airports in this city, Sheremetyevo is the busiest with 49.400.000 passengers a year.
It is neither the main nor the secondary hub, nor the base of any airline. However, it is the one that best connects the capital with all parts of Russia and the whole world with numerous flights every day. That’s the reason for the high number of passengers.
7. Ataturk Istanbul Airport, Istanbul
Although Istanbul has three airports, Ataturk Istanbul Airport holds the title of Turkish airport with the largest number of passengers. And that places it among the busiest airports in Europe.
It is the main hub of three companies, AtlasGlobal, Onur Air, and Turkish Airlines. Also, Istanbul is one of the main Turkish cities as well as the capital, Ankara. It should also be considered that Istanbul straddles Europe and Asia, which makes it an important stopover for those traveling between these two continents. The result is flights to and from all over the world and an annual number of passengers that exceeds 52.500.000.
6. Barcelona-El Prat Josep Tarradellas, Barcelona
Of course, one of the most visited cities in Europe, the beautiful Barcelona, can’t be omitted. As a result, its El-Prat Josep Tarradellas airport is among the most crowded airports in Europe as well as the second-largest airport in Spain.
It is the hub of the low-cost airline Vueling and the base for Ryanair, Air Europa, EasyJet, and Norwegian Air Shuttle. It also offers countless flights to Asia, the United States, and South America, and is becoming an important stopover for Singapore Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and Aerolíneas Argentinas.
5. Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas, Madrid
Right above Barcelona, there is another Spanish airport, that of Madrid. It is the main airport in all of Spain and one of the busiest in Europe. Due to being a starting point for various Spanish and many European destinations, as well as for Latin America and many African destinations, it’s on the 5th sport on this ranking.
The airport has 4 terminals from which many national, international, and intercontinental flights of Iberia, British Airways, American Airlines, LAN Airlines, Air Europa, SkyTeam and Star Alliance, KLM, Air France, Alitalia, Lufthansa, and Aerolíneas Argentinas arrive and depart.
4. Frankfurt am Main Airport, Frankfurt
Here’s another German airport on this list. It is the main airport in all of Germany and the first in Europe for freight traffic. This airport is so popular because, in addition to serving the city of Frankfurt, it’s also close to other important cities, such as Mainz, Offenbach, Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, and Mannheim.
It’s the main hub of the German company Lufthansa, from which many national and international flights depart and arrive every day, as well as the main hub of AeroLogic and Condor. All of this increases the number of passengers even more.
3. Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
Schiphol Airport is not only the main airport in Amsterdam but also in the Netherlands. It is the headquarters of the national airline KLM and the hub of Martinair, Transavia, and the US airline Delta Air Lines.
There are flights to over 260 destinations in 91 countries around the world departing from this airport, which is the reason for reaching such high passenger traffic. And, this crowdedness is actually the reason why many low-cost airlines, such as Ryanair, have had to transfer their flights to smaller airports, such as that of Rotterdam and Eindhoven.
2. Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris
We’ve already mentioned that Paris has two main airports, Orly Airport and Charles De Gaulle Airport. The latter is one of the largest in Europe and the world. Hence, it is one of the most crowded in Europe.
In fact, every year there are over 76,000,000 passengers. This is because it is the base of the national airline Air France which has flights from Paris to all European capitals and over 300 departures a day. It is also the main hub of Europe Airpost, Regional, and Xl Airways France.
1. Heathrow Airport, London
Despite the impressive figures of all previous airports, Heathrow Airport is one the first place with over 80.000.000 passengers every year. It’s one of the 7 airports in London and the most important and busiest of them.
This is because it is the hub of the British Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airways airlines, which count numerous daily arrivals and departures around the world. It is also the main London airport for those traveling to exotic countries as well as an important European airport, used by the national airline, Alitalia, and many world companies.