Africa is the second-largest continent in the world after Asia in terms of land area. It covers 20% of the total land surface of the earth i.e. 30,244,050km² both mainland and islands. It has a total of 2102 airports 46 of which are large airports, 431 medium airports, and 1625 small airports. In this article, we look at the largest of the 46 large airports on the continent.
R. Tambo International Airport
R. Tambo is located in Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa. It was established in 1952 as Jan Smuts International Airport, a name that was changed to Johannesburg International Airport in 1994 when the newly elected African National Congress (ANC) government implemented a policy of not naming airports after politicians. This policy was later reversed, and in October 2006 the airport was re-named after the anti-apartheid politician, Oliver Reginald Tambo.
The airport has 2 runways which measure at 3400 and 4400 meters, 6 terminals, 5 domestic lounge offerings, and 9 international lounges, and 140 retail stores.
Cairo International Airport
Cairo International Airport is located in Heliopolis, to the northeast of Cairo, Egypt, on an approximately 37 square kilometers piece of land. It was built during World War II, by the United States Army Air Forces as John Payne Field Air Force Base to serve the Allied Forces. When American forces left the base at the end of the war, the Civil Aviation Authority took over the facility and began using it for international civil aviation.
The airport has three terminals and three 4000km runways.
Addis Ababa Bole International Airport
Formerly known as Haile Selassie I International Airport, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport is located in the Bole district, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The airport was built back in the 1960s after Ethiopian Airlines realized the runway at Lideta Airport, which was the former main air hub for Ethiopian, was too short for its new jet aircraft, the Boeing 720.
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
JKIA is located in the Embakasi suburb approximately 18 kilometers southeast of Nairobi’s central business district in Kenya. It was originally named Embakasi Airport, but the name was changed in 1978 to honor Jomo Kenyatta, Kenya’s first president, and prime minister.
Plans for the construction of the airport date back to 1945, a time that the colonial power (Britain) and its national airline, BOAC, was worried that the existing airport at Eastleigh was inadequate for post-War civilian airliners.
The actual construction work started in January 1954. In March 1958, Embakasi Airport was opened by the last colonial governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring.
Cape Town International Airport
Located approximately 20 kilometers from the Cape Town City Centre in South Africa, Cape Town International Airport was opened back in 1954 as D.F. Malan Airport to replace Cape the city’s previous airport (Wingfield Aerodrome).
Mohammed V International Airport
Mohammed V International Airport is located in Nouaceur Province in the Moroccan region of Casablanca-Settat. The airport was built by the United States in early 1943 following Operation Torch in World War II.
It was named Berrechid Airfield and it served as an auxiliary airfield for Casablanca’s Anfa Airport. After the end of the war in 1945, the airfield was handed over to the civil government. During the Cold War in the early and middle 1950s, the airfield was reopened as Nouasseur Air Base and was used as the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command. These operations later moved to Ben Guerir Air Base.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Murtala Muhammed International Airport is located in Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria. Originally known as Lagos International Airport, it was built during World War II, and was renamed in the mid-1970s, during the construction of the new international terminal, after the former Nigerian military head of state Murtala Muhammed.
Hurghada International Airport
Hurghada International Airport is located inland, 5 km southwest of El Dahar, the downtown of Hurghada, in Egypt. The airport was initially constructed in the 1980s by repurposing a former military airport.
Today, the airport is serviced by two terminals, one of which has a total area of 92,000 square meters on 3 levels. The departure hall has 72 check-in counters, 20 departure gates, and a duty-free arcade. The airport accommodates approximately 7.5 million passengers per year and has 38 airplane docking stations.