I just read Is the airport capacity related to number of runways? . While there are a host of factors, the idea of more runways is obviously so that more flights come in and out. Which is the biggest and baddest airport which has the largest number of people as well as aircraft coming in and out. Few days back I read that the Chinese have some ambitious plan for the Beijing Airport. I do not know how many runaways it would have (the newspaper article didn't tell/share that info.) but would be interested to know which Airport is the king?

  • $\begingroup$ @mins - corrected, thank you very much. $\endgroup$
    – shirish
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 18:10
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Runways may be added to allow operations with wind in multiple directions, so more runways is not the same as more traffic. This military airport (Edwards AFB) has many runways (at least 8). This is where the Shuttle landed when Kennedy Space Center was not possible. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 18:47
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @mins EDW has even 18! (but only 3 of them paved) $\endgroup$
    – bogl
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 23:08

2 Answers 2

  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) today has 8 runways, which is more than any other current airport has. In 2015 14L/32R was closed and 10R/28L was opened, and further runway changes are foreseen.

    O'Hare Airport runway plan

  • Beijing Daxing International Airport will be Bejing's third airport (planned to open in September 2019). According to Centreforaviation it will have 9 runways. One runway will be reserved for military use. The ninth runway is not visible on public maps and illustrations at this moment.

    Beijing Daxing Airport plan

  • Denver International Airport (DEN) currently has 6, but the long term master plan foresees 10 runways in total by 2030, and 12 beyond 2030. See Jonathan Walters' answer for images. (Fun fact: there are a plenty of conspiracy theories about the shape and size of DEN)

  • Additional runways are not necessarily used to increase (commercial) traffic. Runways maybe reserved for different wind directions, to separate different type of planes (military, general aviation), or for noise abatement. This was already discussed better in the other question that you mention.

    Open runways at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport

    As an example for the noise abatement, this picture (from LVNL) shows a snapshot of active runways at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. There are 6 runways, of which usually only 2 or 3 are used. The most distant runway (here in green) is almost always in use, causing very long taxi times in favour of reducing the noise exposure of nearby residential areas.

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Sheesh, I've heard Schipol had some long taxi times, but I just measured the shortest taxi route from 18R to the nearest terminal ramp entrance and it means 2.75 miles. Maybe they should call an Uber :) $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 23:47
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Interesting: O'Hare has 8 runways and handles 76 million people. Heathrow has 2 and handles 74 million. Why the big difference? Does Chicago get lots of smaller flights needing separate runways, or do they just not use all of them due to wind / noise? Or is it simply they have s less dense schedule - a plane per runway every 15 minutes not every 3? $\endgroup$
    – Tim
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 1:09
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @Tim Chicago definitely gets lots of smaller flights, including a number of regional jets and turboprops. With the cost of a landing slot at Heathrow running tens of millions of dollars, there's a strong economic incentive for airlines to only fly larger aircraft there. See this graph showing significant passenger growth and only modest growth in number of movements. Heathrow also has some restrictions on nighttime flights, which O'Hare has some late flights leaving after 11pm (including a number of cargo operations). $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 4:06
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW 20-25 minutes for 18R-36L. They at times go pretty darn fast on the taxiway leading there. I've clocked them at 30+ knots on that long taxiway driving on the road parallel to it. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 6:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Tim Take a look at the list of busiest airports by movements. O'Hare has almost twice as many as Heathrow (and Atlanta has even more.) 8 of the top 10 airports by movements (and all of the top 4) are in the U.S. Outside of the U.S., only Haneda (#5) and de Gaulle (#10) make the top 10. That said, Heathrow is in dire need of more runways and has been for quite a while, but space to build them is limited. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:00

Denver International (KDEN) appears to take first place at a total of 12 runways, current and planned.

KDEN currently has 6 runways, with an additional 6 planned. The first four additional runways are planned for completion by 2030, with the last two additional runways planned for completion beyond 2030.

enter image description here

Due to projected growth and Denver's weather patterns, KDEN will ultimately require more runways to serve the same amount of traffic as comparable aerodromes.

Denver International Airport is projected to experience activity levels comparable to those currently at O’Hare and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airports. These airports encompass seven and five runways, respectively. O’Hare’s runway system, which is currently undergoing modification, will ultimately consist of six parallel runways providing the ability to simultaneously arrive to three independent runways during poor weather conditions and two crosswind runways. Likewise, Atlanta’s runway system consists of five parallel runways, allowing simultaneous arrivals to three independent runways in poor weather conditions, but without crosswind runway capability. Given the historic wind and weather conditions in Denver, influenced strongly by the Rocky Mountains, crosswind runway capability is critical to maintaining operations during strong winds, poor or marginal weather conditions, protecting the all-weather reliability of the airfield system.


More details including the full airport layout plan (see below) available here.

enter image description here

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It looks like a Hakenkreuz. $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 9:24
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I guess someone doesn't like this answer. Curious why the downvote? Is there another airport with a current and planned total of runways greater than 12? $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ Can I upvote the answer & downvote KDEN's plans? That looks like a headache and a half if they get all of that nonsense built! And it's not like that place is a breeze to get into & out of now... $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Commented Aug 28, 2017 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ @sean, I have rolled back the edits to my answer since my existing wording intentionally addresses the question. There are currently a total of 12 planned runways, including the existing 6. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 12:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .