So here.

All airports are aerodromes. All aerodromes are not airports.

Difference between Airport and Aerodrome:

An aerodrome or airdrome is any place from where flight operations can take place. This can include an airstrip in the middle of nowhere to a commercial airport in the biggest city in the world. An airport is a special type of aerodrome that has satisfied certain certification criteria or regulatory requirements of the ICAO that a regular aerodrome may not have achieved.

The term airport implies a certain stature of having satisfied certain certification criteria or regulatory requirements of the ICAO that a regular aerodrome may not have achieved. Hence it can be said that all airports are aerodromes, but not all aerodromes are airports.

So then what facilities and services does an aerodrome need to have, in order to be certified as an airport in Canada?


2 Answers 2


Short answer

  • An operator of a certified airport is required to conduct airport operations according to an Airport Operations Manual.
  • This manual must enumerate the facilities offered by the airport.
  • An important aspect of the manual is to describe how airport safety and emergencies are managed, and by whom. Note that the obligations for safety are not specific to airports, but apply to any aerodrome. what is required for an airport is to write in the AOM how they are implemented.

So the difference between an aerodrome and an airport is not about the facilities or the equipment, it's about how it is operated and who checks it is done as intended.

Indeed some equipments are required at an airport (e.g. markings, lights and signs) but they are not specific to airports, they apply to all aerodromes.

Layman language

  • Aerodrome usually refers to the possibility for aircrafts to land and take-off. This is the point of view of a pilot with needs to takeoff and land. The word aerodrome is derived from the Greek words aeras (αέρας), "air" and dromos (δρόμος), "road" or "course", literally meaning "air course" (Wikipedia).

  • Airport usually refers to an aerodrome with passengers or freight facilities. This is the angle of view of an airline conducting business. In Canada there are obligations associated with running an airport.

  • International airport usually refers to an airport with customs and immigration services.

Aeronautical language

For the aeronautical information, a Canadian airport remains an aerodrome. E.g. a list of aerodromes.

Canadian authorities language

In Canada, an airline making business with air transportation must operate at aerodromes holding an airport certificate, aerodromes referred to by the Canadian authorities as airports.

From Canadian Aviation Regulations “airport” means:

an aerodrome in respect of which an airport certificate issued under Subpart 2 of Part III is in force.

Issuance of the certificate is described at section 302.03, and obligations for the airport operator are described at section 302.07. This is a very long list of obligations. An Airport Operations Manual is required, and described at section 302.08.

Summary of section 302.07 - The operator of an airport shall...

Summary of section 302.08 - The Airport Operations Manual must contain...

... all the informations necessary for the authorities to verify that the airport meets the applicable standards...

  • Physical characteristics
  • Obstacle limitation surfaces
  • Declared distances
  • Lighting, markers, markings, signs
  • Access to the movement area and control procedures...
  • Enumeration of the facilities and services provided [...] including air traffic services and aeronautical information and communication services, navigation aids, and aviation weather services
  • Emergency response measures
  • Airport safety measures
  • Safety management system required under section 107.02
  • Description of the safety management system's components specified in section 302.502

The operator of an airport shall operate the airport in accordance with the Airport Operations Manual.

ICAO publishes a set of standards and recommended practices (SARPs), including Annex 14 — Aerodromes, Volume I — Aerodrome Design and Operations. Standards are fully enforced by ICAO members, recommended practices are encouraged but still optional for members.


  • In Canada, airlines are required to conduct business according to specific rules regarding aircrafts, passengers, security, etc. One of these obligations is to use airports holding a valid certificate.

  • Airport operators are required to conduct operations according to the practices listed in related publications. They must use an Airport Operations Manual describing how these practices are implemented. The authorities deliver the airport certificate based on this manual, and on-site inspection.

    • Airports operators are required to install equipments such markings, but this is valid for any aerodrome.
    • Airport operators are not required to offer such services as immigration, ATC, weather station, refueling, gateways, etc, however they are required to publish, in the Airport Operations Manual, which services are available.
  • It's up to airlines to select and use the appropriate airports, according to their needs and legal obligations.

  • $\begingroup$ Wow. That is a really good answer... I'm tied between two now! $\endgroup$
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 7, 2015 at 22:47

Original Answer

It is an area where:

  • aircraft land
  • aircraft take off

Runway may not be present (in case of a water aerodrome).

By definition2, an airport is an aerodrome with facilities for commercial aviation flights to take off and land It is an aerodrome which has:

  • facilities to store and maintain aircraft
  • at least one designated operational landing/takeoff area (runway or helipad)
  • hangars
  • terminals
  • fixed base operators
  • airport aprons
  • air traffic control centers
  • passenger facilities (restaurants and lounges etc.)
  • emergency services
  • customs3
  • immigration3


I noticed that the question is updated to be only for Canada. In that case, airport requires the following:

Further reading

Airport Design and Engineering Standards (by FAA)
Aerodrome Standards (PDF by ICAO)

1: Not all airports must have all of these to qualify as an airport.
2: I could not find specific regulations which define an airport.
3: In case of an international airport

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ So which are the facilities aerodrome must have to qualify as airport? $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 5, 2015 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec I could not find a definite definition, but I updated the answer. $\endgroup$
    – Farhan
    Jun 5, 2015 at 15:53

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