Through the years, air travel has evolved to be one of the most widely used and dependable means of transport across the globe, far from the famous warplanes that once dominated the skies. Many countries have constructed massive, modern airports to cater to their passenger and cargo needs.
Africa has made significant advancements itself, establishing top-notch, major international airports that serve travelers and spur tourism, global investment, and economic development. Today, millions of passengers visit or link connecting flights to and from the world’s second-largest continent. Here are the major airports of Africa.
O.R. Tambo International Airport, South Africa
Facilitating more than 21 million passengers annually, Oliver Tambo (O.R) International Airport is the busiest airport on the continent. It was founded in 1952 and was named after Oliver Reginald Tambo, one of the key founding fathers of South Africa.
Situated in Gauteng, the country’s commercial and industrial center, the airport handles over 50% of the air-traveling passengers in South Africa. Excellent road infrastructure surrounds the airport, allowing travelers to reach other major cities like Pretoria and Johannesburg through the national road network.
South African Airways and other low-cost South African airlines fly to various destinations across the six inhabited continents, while many major international carriers like Delta, LATAM, Qantas, and Air China also fly in and out of the bustling airport.
Cape Town International Airport, South Africa
Opened in 1952, Cape Town International Airport is the second-busiest airport in the country and third-busiest in the entire continent. For many years, it has been hailed as the Best Airport in Africa, as well as been voted as the cleanest airport and best-supporting personnel.
Located 12 miles from Cape Town, CPT airport is the major international gateway to the country’s capital and its surrounding cities. Its local route Cape Town to Johannesburg is ranked among the top ten busiest in the world, but you can fly to the UK, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East from CPT as well.
Mohammed V International Airport, Morocco
Situated in Nouaceur Province, Mohammed V International Airport annually is Africa’s fourth busiest airport. In 2019, it registered 10 million travels, coming from various countries. Its national airline, Royal Air Maroc, flies to five continents. Numerous other international airlines like Turkish Airlines, Air Canada, Qatar, Eurowings, Saudia, and Lufthansa also fly from here. Mohammed V International Airport serves the port city of Casablanca, Morocco’s commercial and industrial powerhouse that links travelers to other parts of the country.
Cairo International Airport, Egypt
Cairo International Airport is Egypt’s largest and busiest airport, located 9.3 miles from the heart of the city. Nearly 180 flights are facilitated in the airport, serving as the major hub for EgyptAir, the country’s flagship carrier, and other smaller airlines like Nile Air. Measuring approximately 14 square miles, the airport also caters to several international carriers like British Airways, Saudia, Turkish, Lufthansa, and Air France to name a few. Opened in 1963, the airport now has three terminals, with the third and largest only established in 2009. CIA is the second-busiest airport in Africa, just next to O.R. Tambo International Airport.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Kenya
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) is Kenya’s largest aviation facility, situated in Embakasi suburb 9 miles southwest of the country’s capital Nairobi. Officially opened in 1958, it was first called Embakasi Airport before its name was changed as a tribute to the country’s first president and prime minister.
Today, the airport facilitates about 127 flights per day and caters to 7 million passengers yearly. It also functions as the main hub for East Africa, with many international carriers flying here to Asia and Europe.
Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport, Egypt
Formerly called the Ophira Airport, Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport is one of the busiest in Egypt and Africa, with some seven million passengers annually. It’s situated right in the Sinai Peninsula and is the main gateway to Egypt’s Red Sea Riviera, lined with beautiful resort cities. SSH has two passenger terminals, operating for both domestic and international flights going to Europe and the Middle East.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Nigeria
With a population of 200 million and being Africa’s most populous country, it’s little wonder that Nigeria is also home to one of the major airports in Africa. Murtala Muhammed International Airport sees nearly 6 million passengers a year, with international airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Royal Air Maroc, EgyptAir, British Airways, and Delta flying in and out of the airport.
Situated in Ikeja, Lagos State, the Murtala Muhammed International Airport has undergone numerous renovations in the past decade. Today, passengers are treated to many facilities like great shopping centers, a four-star hotel, and a casino directly connected to the terminal building via a bridge.
King Shaka International Airport, South Africa
King Shaka International Airport only opened in May 2021, but the modern, world-class airport already ranks among the busiest airports in Africa. Situated in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, most of its flights travel to Johannesburg and Cape Town, but international flights from Air Namibia, Turkish, Qatar Airways, and Emirates are also facilitated here. KSIA replaced Durban International Airport and now functions as the principal airport for the coastal city of Durban.
Hurghada International Airport, Egypt
Another major airport in Egypt and in the entire African continent is Hurghada International Airport. It has an average of six million passengers per annum and provides access to the beaches on the west side of Egypt’s Red Sea coast. With that, many European tourists opt to take their leisure flights to this airport. HRG was a former military airport, purposely reconstructed to serve passengers. Significant upgrades were made such as the addition of a new terminal and modern facilities in 2014.
Chief Dawid Stuurman International Airport, South Africa
Famously dubbed as the “ten-minute airport,” passengers arriving at the Port Elizabeth International Airport won’t need to wait to travel and wait for long as they only need the given timeframe to reach the central business hub and the gorgeous beachfront of Eastern Cape’s Port Elizabeth. Apart from being the main transport hub, the airport, formerly called the H. F. Verwoerd Airport and the Port Elizabeth International Airport, also fuel the city’s industries. Established in 1929, it was only formally opened in 1926 but has seen great terminal upgrades since then.
Addis Ababa Bole International Airport, Ethiopia
Registering more than 12 million passengers per year, Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is one of the biggest transfer hubs in Africa. About 450 flights arrive and leave the airport per day, traveling within the African continent with non-stop services to North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Apart from serving passengers, ADD is also utilized for cargo flights and as the hub of the Ethiopian Aviation Academy.
Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Zambia
Kenneth Kaunda International Airport is the largest airport and principal aviation hub in Zambia. Established in 1967 as the Lusaka International Airport, it was renamed to its current name in 2011 to honor Zambia’s first president. In 2018, the airport saw nearly 1.5 million primarily composed of domestic flights and flights to neighboring countries. Tourists mostly arrive at the airport to reach Zambia’s national parks like Lower Zambezi National Park and Kafue National Park.
That caps our list of the major airports in Africa. Yet, it’s good to note that all hundred airports, both medium and large, are vital to the continent’s transport and cargo requirements, tourism, economic growth, and for bringing Africa even closer to the world.