List of 20 Busiest Airports in Africa – 2021 Updated

African Airports are generally experiencing a surge in domestic and international travel.  The continent’s airports recorded over 40 million international tourist arrivals only in 2019 and are likely to double over the next two decades. Such a surge comes with the need for airports to keep up.

This is why most airports in Africa are either undergoing or have scheduled maintenance and expansion to buffer this increase in the number of passengers it can handle.

This list covers the top 20 busiest aviation hubs in Africa based on the number or volume of annual passengers the airport handles and other facts.

In what will come as a surprise to virtually no one, O.R Tambo International airport has once again been crowned the continent’s busiest Airport, followed by Cairo International airport.

These busiest airports (by passenger volume) also ensure that their crowds receive some comfort, including being treated to exciting views.

While most of these airports are among the rest of the world’s airports that have placed a variety of travel restrictions on travelers to control the spread of COVID 19, these are airports that consistently cater to the highest number of passengers in Africa.

It may not completely classify the airports accordingly as the values become close to each other across airports.

Here’s the List of Airports That Bustle the Most in Africa

1. O.R Tambo International Airport:

Coming first on the list is this South African airport. It is undoubtedly the largest and busiest airport in the whole of Africa. For an airport of its caliber, it has witnessed a change in name over the years. Originally Known as Jan Smuts International airport, it was renamed Johannesburg International Airport In 1994, and on October 27, 2006, the government changed the name to O.R Tambo International Airport In honor of the late ANC President Oliver Reginald Tambo. The airport is located in Kempton Park, Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, South Africa. The beautiful airport boasts of world-class infrastructural facilities capable of rivaling some of the best airports in Europe; it possesses six terminals and two runways adjacent to the airport terminal building for smooth operations.

World-leading airlines like Delta Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Emirates Airlines, and Air China are fully operational in OR Tambo International Airport.

In 2019 a total of 21,665,403 million passengers passed through its terminals, a significant increase given the fact that it recorded 2% less in 2018.

2. Cairo International Airport:

Located in the city of Cairo, the Cairo International Airport Is without a doubt the leading airport in all of Egypt. It is the primary hub for Egypt Air and Nile Air. The foundations for what will later become the Cairo International Airport was first laid in the 1940s during World War II when the United States Air Force built Payne Airfield with the sole intent of servicing its armed forces and its collaborators. Today the Cairo International Airport is the 2nd busiest airport in Africa, it recorded a total of 15,010,501 passengers in 2019 and 121 flights daily.

The Cairo International Airport has 4 terminals. Besides being an airport that aims to offer smooth services to passengers, the Cairo International Airport places a really high emphasis on entertainment; the airport boasts of a luxury 350 room five-star hotel, and a shopping mall called Airmall.

3. Bole International Airport:

Having recorded 12,143,938 passengers accessing its terminals in 2019, it really is no question as to why Bole International Airport is the third busiest airport in Africa. Located in the beautiful city of Addis Ababa, the Airport, which was formerly known as Haile Selassie I Airport, not only serves as the main hub of the country’s National airline (Africa’s largest flight carrier)) but also as the aviation base of the Ethiopian Airline. The airport boasts of state-of-the-art facilities, 2 terminals, 11 gates, restaurants, and a spa amongst other side attractions.

4. Cape Town International Airport:

Another South African airport in the top 5 busiest airports in Africa is the Cape Town International Airport. In 2019, the airport located in Matroosfontein, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa recorded passenger traffic of 10,823,737 and over a hundred flights daily, thus making it the second busiest airport in South Africa and the 4th busiest in Africa. The airport which opened for business in 1954 currently boasts of having a modern-day edifice; two terminals, prayer rooms, lounges, restaurants, two hotels (Bon Hotels and Hotel Verde), and 120 check-in desks for fast handling of passenger check-ins.

5. Mohammed V International Airport Casablanca:

At number 5 is the Mohammed V International Airport Casablanca, located in Nouasseur, Morocco. The airport which was first constructed by the United States in 1943, has gone a long way from handling military traffic to being an airport that caters to millions of passengers yearly.

In 2019, it recorded passenger traffic of 10,306,293 people, which is 5.9% higher than it did in 2018. For convenience, there is a rail service that links the Casablanca port station to the Airport.

6. Murtala Muhammed International Airport:

The Murtala Muhammed International Airport is located in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. It is the busiest airport in West Africa with no fewer than 7.3 million passengers passing through its gates in 2019. The airport houses the headquarter of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria, Accident Investigation Bureau, Aero Contractors, Arik Air, as well as the Lagos branch office of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority.

7. Houari Boumedienne Airport:

Algiers, Algeria, has one of the most used airports in Africa. The Houari Boumediene Airport is the principal airport in Algeria and is named after the former President of Algeria, Houari Boumediene. The airport boasts of a capacity of handling 22 million passengers per year but in recent years has only been able to record annual passenger traffic of 7 million. The airport is made up of 4 terminals.

8. Marrakesh Menara Airport:

Located in the city Of Marrakesh, Morocco: the Marrakesh Menara Airport is one that specializes in receiving flights from Europe, Casablanca, and few Arab Nations. The airport serves as a focus city for Morocco’s national carrier – Royal Air Maroc and Ryanair. It is made up of 3 terminals, however, the 2nd terminal was closed following the opening of Terminal 3 which was inaugurated by King Mohammed VI on December 21, 2016. Passenger flow through the airport in 2019 was estimated at 6.3 million.

9. King Shaka International Airport Durban:

This airport is situated at La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is also known as La Mercy Airport; the airport is designed to handle the Airbus A380. It was conceptualized in a way that it would guarantee efficiency in service delivery to customers hence the reason its terminals have the capacity of handling about 7.5 million passengers annually. It also has 72 check-in counters and 18 self-service kiosks for fast handling of passengers check-in. The airport recorded impressive passenger traffic of 6,262,055 in 2019.

10. Hurghada International Airport:

Located at Hurghada, Egypt, the airport allows more than 5 million travelers through her terminals on a yearly basis. It is the second busiest airport in Egypt. Unknown to most people the airport possesses two terminals and is said to have the capability of handling 13 million travelers annually. A list of notable airlines that operates within the airport are Air Cairo, Air Bucharest, Eurowings, and Turkish Airlines to name but a few.

11. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport:

The busiest airport in East and Central Africa, it serves as a hub for Kenya Airways, Jambojet, Fly540, Africa Express Airways. Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is located at Nairobi, and about 5 million passengers are recorded to use it every year. The airport serves as a hub for Kenya Airways, Fly540, Jambojet, and African Express Airways. Being the busiest airport in Kenya comes with a certain level of expectation in terms of infrastructure and service delivery all of which the airport fulfills in its entirety. It has a beautiful looking structure, world-class infrastructural facilities, 2 terminals, and several lounges.

12. Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport:

The Sharm el-sheik international airport is the third busiest airport in Egypt and the 9th in Africa; it is located in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. This originally Israeli air force base is one of the major airports in Africa and serves 5 million people traveling through it every year. The airport is made up of 2 terminals; its second terminal was further expanded in November 2019 making the airport capable of handling about 9 million passengers annually.

13. Tunis Carthage International Airport:

Named after the city of Carthage in Tunisia, the airport is a hub for Tunisair, Tunisair Express, and Nouvelair. The airport also houses the Tunisian Civil Aviation and Airports Authority (CACA) headquarters. Some notable fully operational airlines in the airport premises are Air Europa, Qatar Airways, Air France, Egypt Air, Emirates, and Eurowings to name a few, all of which cover travels to several destinations in the world. The airport serves around 4 million passengers every year.

14. Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport:

Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is located in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria (Abuja). It is operated by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria and an estimated 3 million passengers use the airport every year. It was named in honor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, a foremost nationalist and first president of Nigeria. The airport was constructed in 2000 and opened for business in 2002. It consists of two terminals, but both terminals are known to share a single runway. However, plans to build a second runway at the airport to ease the flow of air traffic on its single runway is underway and expected to be completed in the nearest future. The airport is managed and controlled by the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

15. Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport:

This long-named airport is located in Mauritius. Serving as the main international airport in Mauritius, it has direct flights to Africa, Asia, and Europe. It currently stands as the hub for Air Mauritius, the countries national airline. Ownership and management of the airport is entrusted in the hands of Airports of Mauritius Co Ltd. Statistics show that the airport records about 2.5 million passengers annually.

16. Agadir – Al Massira Airport:

The Agadir Al Massira Airport is an international airport located in Temsia, Morocco. It was designed to serve the needs of Agadir, one of the major economic hubs in Morocco. The airport is made up of one terminal and runway, which measures 3200m x 45m. It has a capacity of handling a passenger flow of 3 million annually. However, the airport recorded passenger traffic of 2,008,465 in 2019

17. Djerba–Zarzis International Airport:

This airport is located on the beautiful island of Djerba in Tunisia and has about 2 million yearly turnovers of passengers in the airport. It is operated by the Tunisian Civil Aviation & Airports Authority. The airport is made up of a terminal and a runway and is busier during the summer as a result of tourists wanting to come and create long-lasting memories on the serene beautiful island of Djerba.

18. Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport:

Still in Tunisia is Monastir Habib Bourguiba International Airport which has a capacity of handling 3.5 million passengers annually. The airport activity is mainly due to the movement of tourists who are coming to visit Monastir, Sousse, and the surrounding resorts. It was named after former President Habib Bourguiba, who served as President from 1956-1987. The airport is currently managed by TAV airports holding and is expected to be so until 2048 at least. In 2019 passenger traffic through the airport was totaled to be at 1,586,860.

19. Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport:

The Léopold Sédar Senghor International Airport is located near the town of Yoff, north of Dakar, Senegal. Prior to October 9, 1996, it was known as Dakar-Yoff international airport. The airport can handle aircraft up to the size of the Boeing 777-200 jets. The airport features consist of a single terminal and runway, six gates, few shops, a large waiting room, and six remote stands. A second terminal is currently in the works. It serves over 1.5 million passengers annually.

20. Luxor International Airport:

Situated 6 km / 4 miles east of Luxor city, Luxor International Airport (LXR) is an entry point for the popular tourist destination of the Nile Valley. It was handed over to The Egyptian civil aviation authority in May 1946 from the British military authority. Since the city of Luxor is home to several archeological sites and landmarks such as the Luxor museum, mummification museum, Valley of the Kong’s, valley of the queens, Tombs of the nobles and Malakata to name a few, the airport has been upgraded severally in the past to suit the ever-increasing demands of passengers. It witnesses passenger traffic of about 1 million yearly despite its 8 million capacity.

Emeka Chigozie
Emeka Chigozie
Emeka has a keen interest in tech, entertainment, and politics. He likes to stay up to date with global news when he is not thinking about future trends in tech.


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