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What defines an international airport?

Published on 21/01/2017 01:00 - By

Whenever you catch a commercial flight to another country, it goes without saying you will land at an international airport. Why? Quite simply because the definition of an international airport lies in the fact that it offers flights to or from at least one foreign country. Contrary to preconceptions, the size of the airport facilities, the type of aircraft operated there, or the numbers of airlines present are not the defining criteria for an international airport.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) told us that in order to be defined as international, an airport must have customs and immigration services, as well as an emergency medical centre and a quarantine zone for animals and plants.

Around the globe, there are more than 1,300 international airports. In the USA, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is one of the world’s busiest. Its seven terminals and five runways spread out over more than 4,700 acres (1,900 hectares). On the other hand, Luang Prabang International Airport in Laos is one of the smallest in the world, possessing only one runway. But that runway, measuring 7,220 ft (2,200m), serves Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam – easily brings it into this category.

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