As air travel continues to play a crucial role in connecting people and facilitating trade across Africa, the demand for efficient and bustling airports has never been greater. In 2023, Cairo International Airport stands as the undisputed champion, being the busiest airport in Africa. Located in the bustling capital city of Egypt, Cairo International Airport serves as a gateway to both Africa and the Middle East, attracting millions of passengers each year.
The second busiest airport in Africa is O.R. Tambo International Airport, situated in the Kempton Park district of Johannesburg, 23 km north-west of the city centre and 46 km south of Pretoria city centre.
Top 10 Busiest Airports in Africa, 2023
From Cairo International Airport in Egypt to O.R. Tambo International Airport in South Africa, these are the busiest Airports in Africa.
1. Cairo International Airport
Passengers in 2022: 20 million
Cairo International Airport is the principal international airport of Cairo and the largest and busiest airport in Egypt. It serves as the primary hub for EgyptAir and Nile Air as well as several other airlines.
The airport is administered by the Egyptian Holding Company for Airports and Air Navigation, which controls the Cairo Airport Company, the Egyptian Airports Company, National Air Navigation Services and Aviation Information Technology, and the Cairo Airport Authority.
The airport has four terminals, the third (and largest) opened on 27 April 2009 and the Seasonal Flights Terminal opened on 20 September 2011.
With the national carrier, EgyptAir, and the Egyptian authorities planning to develop the airport as a hub for the Middle East and Africa, the airport facilities are in constant development.
Several projects are currently underway, including but not limited to the Construction of a multi-story car park located near Terminal 3, the development of real estate and the ‘Oasis Project’ which would feature a business park with company headquarters and regional offices, Construction of ‘Aerocity’, and a family leisure park.
2. O.R. Tambo International Airport
Country: South Africa
Passengers in 2022: 19 million
O. R. Tambo International Airport is an international airport situated in Kempton Park, Gauteng, South Africa. It serves as the primary airport for domestic and international travel to/from South Africa. The airport is currently the second busiest airport in Africa, with a capacity to handle up to 28 million passengers annually.
The airport which serves as the hub for South African Airways handled over 19 million passengers in 2022.
O. R. Tambo International Airport recorded 21.2 million passengers in 2017–2018, up from 20.7 million passengers the year before. Of those passengers, 9.2 million were international and 11 million domestic, with the remainder being classified as “regional” or “unscheduled”.
There are six terminals at the airport, but these can be broken down into three major areas: the international terminals; the domestic terminals; and the transit terminals.
3. Mohammed V International Airport
Passengers in 2022: 7.6 million
Mohammed V International Airport is an international airport serving Casablanca, Morocco.
The airport serves as a hub for Royal Air Maroc, Royal Air Maroc Express and Air Arabia Maroc. It is named after King Mohammed V of Morocco, who led the country’s successful push for independence from French and Spanish colonial rule.
Mohammed V International Airport is the sixth best airport in Africa, and the third busiest airport in Africa.
4. Hurghada International Airport
Passengers in 2022: 7.2 million
Hurghada International Airport is the international airport of Hurghada in Egypt. It is the third busiest airport in North Africa after Mohammed V International Airport, the fourth-busiest airport in Africa and an important destination for leisure flights mainly from Europe.
The airport currently has two passenger terminals and a new terminal complex is currently been constructed. According to Egypt’s aviation minister, once the new terminal complex is commissioned the airport would be able to host up to 13 million visitors annually. The new terminal has a total area of 92,000 square meters on three levels. The departure hall has 72 check-in counters and 20 departure gates.
5. Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport
Passengers in 2022: 7 million
Sharm El Sheikh International Airport is an international airport located in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It is the fourth-busiest airport in Egypt after Cairo International Airport and Hurghada International Airport and the fifth busiest airport in Africa.
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.
A new terminal (terminal three) and a runway are being constructed to increase the airport’s passenger handling capacity by 10 million. The airport is expected to cater to 18 million passengers annually by 2025.
6. Murtala Muhammed International Airport
Passengers in 2022: 5 million
Lagos Murtala Muhammed Airport is the largest airport in Nigeria and the third busiest airport in Africa. The airport serves the cities of Lagos and Ibadan and is named after Murtala Muhammed, a former head of state of Nigeria.
The Murtala Muhammed International Airport is located in Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria. It is the busiest airport in West Africa and the sixth busiest with over 5.5 million passengers passing through its gates in 2022.
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.
Murtala Muhammed International Airport consists of an international and a domestic terminal, located about one kilometre from each other. Both terminals share the same runways.
7. Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport
Passengers in 2022: 5 million
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport is an international airport serving Abuja, in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. It is the main airport serving the Nigerian capital city and was named after Nigeria’s first President, Nnamdi Azikiwe. The airport processed over 5.2 million passengers in 2022 making it the seventh busiest airport in Africa.
The airport also operates a private jet wing that serves businesses, diplomats and politicians in the city.
8. Marrakesh Menara Airport
Passengers in 2022: 4.9 million
Marrakesh Menara Airport is an international airport serving Marrakesh, the capital city of the Marrakesh-Safi region in Morocco. It is an international facility that receives several European flights as well as flights from Casablanca and some of the Arab world nations. The airport served over 4.9 million passengers in 2022.
Marrakesh Menara Airport is the fifth best airport in Africa and the eighth busiest airport in Africa.
9. Cape Town International Airport
Country: South Africa
Passengers in 2022: 4.7 million
Cape Town International Airport is the primary international airport serving the city of Cape Town, and is the third busiest airport in South Africa and ninth busiest airport in Africa.
For the sixth year in a row, Cape Town International has been named Africa’s best airport. It also scooped the top prize for being the continent’s cleanest and having the best staff.
10. King Shaka International Airport
Country: South Africa
Passengers in 2022: 4.3 million
King Shaka International Airport, abbreviated KSIA, is the primary international airport serving Durban, South Africa. It’s Located in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal, approximately 35 km (22 mi) north of the city center of Durban.
The airport opened its doors to passengers on 1 May 2010, just over a month before the start of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The tenth busiest airport in Africa was designed by Osmond Lange Architects and Planners and costs about US$900 million.