17

What is the busiest domestic airport?

By domestic airport, I mean an airport where:

  • all scheduled or charter flights are domestic, and
  • the airport must not have any customs and immigration facilities for commercial flights (so it would not be possible to charter a plane to land there).

I don't know about customs and immigration for general aviation only.

For example:

  • New York LaGuardia (LGA) or Washington-National (DCA) do not count; despite the absence of customs and immigration, they have international flights from Canada with customs preclearance;
  • An airport in Germany or France lacking customs and immigration but having flights to only Schengen destinations does not count, because some of the Schengen destinations are in other countries.

By busiest, I mean largest number of passengers.

18 out of 20 busiest air routes in the world are domestic routes, but the world's busiest airports all serve many international flights. I would expect the busiest domestic-only airport in the world to be an airport in a large and populous country such as China, India, United States, Indonesia, Brazil, or Russia.

Contenders in the USA might be DAL, OMA, BOI, LIH, or MSN, which appear to have no scheduled international destinations, although it's not clear to me whether they meet the second criterion.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. For the next few days or weeks the comments will be locked, please post other comments in the chat. – Willeke Feb 13 at 18:35
37

According to Wikipedia, São Paulo–Congonhas Airport served over 21 million passengers in 2017. It used to be international, but

Since the opening of Guarulhos Airport in 1985, international flights no longer operate from Congonhas (...) In 2008 Congonhas lost its international category.

connections map

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31

This is now only of historical interest, but for a brief period between April 18, 2002 and November 30, 2003, after all Taiwan flights were moved to Narita but before shuttle flights to Seoul started, Tokyo-Haneda Airport HND served only domestic flights. With 62,876,182 passengers in 2003, this was and is almost certainly the busiest purely domestic airport the world has ever seen. (Even after subtracting those Seoul shuttle passengers from that figure: at a peak of 8 flights/day, on narrowbody aircraft with a capacity of around 150 people, we're looking at 40k tops for the one month they operated.)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_busiest_airports_in_Japan

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  • 2
    Like, every human in the country used Haneda every year! Wow! – Fattie Feb 12 at 21:50
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    @Fattie Japan's population in 2003 was 128 million. – lambshaanxy Feb 12 at 23:14
17

Since China was mentioned in the OP, I took a look at the busiest airports in China. The busiest one without "International" in its name appears to be Zhuhai, with 11.2M passengers passing through in 2018. This makes it the 35th busiest airport in China.

enter image description here

I also looked at airports higher up on the list. Airports #21–34 all appear to have at least one international flight according to flightconnections.com. I didn't bother looking at the 20 most busy airports, since it seemed obvious to me that they were major cities with international connections; but it's possible I missed one.

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    +1. Shanghai-Hongqiao SHA is #8 on the list and almost entirely domestic, but it does have shuttle services to Seoul and Tokyo, which disqualify it. – lambshaanxy Feb 11 at 15:16
  • @lambshaanxy Hongqiao is a trap :-). Book flights via Shanghai. Oh no! - Hongqiao. If you don't MIND having to transit Shanghai it's OK. Otherwise ... . One day I got to ride the Maglev 3 times. Wheeeeeee! :-) – Russell McMahon Feb 12 at 17:16
  • Does someone know whether this airport has immigration facilities (even if not in use), like passport check booths etc.? At least Cargo planes are going to Amsterdam according to Wikipedia, and I guess someone does check the passports of the cargo plane crew before admitting them into the country again? According to OP, that would disqualify the airport already. – Alexander Feb 13 at 10:09
15

Another interesting case is Simferopol SIP (and Ercan ECN by the same principle).

Due to the lack of international recognition of Crimea as part of Russia it can only logically offer routes to Russia, with annual passenger traffic of 5M pax/yr.

SIP routes map

Please note it's low season currently.

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    Simferopol SIP cannot be domestic only as most (all?) of its flights are international - between Ukraine and Russia. – Mykola Feb 12 at 11:45
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    They are de facto domestic, treated as domestic by the airline and local authorities. – gerrit Feb 12 at 11:57
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    @gerrit from your question: "some of the Schengen destinations are in other countries." By that same logic this cannot count. – njzk2 Feb 12 at 19:27
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    @nick012000 the last thing I read about that part of the world was that the UN voted not to recognize the change in sovereignty. – njzk2 Feb 13 at 15:50
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    @nick012000 and according to the UN, it is part of Ukraine. Borders and country limits are a little more complicated than unilateral declarations. This is not the only example of disputed territory on which not everyone agrees. See for more examples: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_disputes – njzk2 Feb 13 at 20:28
14

Of non-trivial examples, consider Tehran Mehrabad THR. I expect it actually has international terminals to be used during Hajj, but not year round.

picture of THR

Wikipedia lists around 17M pax/yr.

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  • 1
    But question asked that airport should not have immigration facilities – usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ Feb 12 at 16:44
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    @usr-local-ΕΨΗΕΛΩΝ I understand that, but they are closed most time of the year. I'm not sure if closed immigration facilities count. – alamar Feb 13 at 8:57

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