Difference Between Airport and Aerodrome

The concept of airport and aerodrome (or airdrome) can confuse as from both the places flights can take off and land.

But, several other aviation-related operations don’t take place in both airports and aerodromes.

So, the point of difference lies in how they operated and who are the competent authorities responsible for regulations.  

Airport vs Aerodrome

The main difference between airport and aerodrome is that airports can be considered a type of aerodrome whereas all aerodromes are not airports.

The airport is referred to a particular place or location from where the aircraft takes off and lands.

Aerodromes are spaces for flight operations to take place irrespective of public or private transportation.  

Airport and Aerodrome

An airport is a place where multiple operations of aircraft take place from transportation to maintenance.

To travel within a nation, domestic terminals are used and for traveling across nations, international terminals are used.

Currently, there are 34 international airports in India are 1,200 worldwide. 

Aerodromes mainly refer to an area from where an aircraft can take off and land. There are no extra operations like maintenance, air traffic control, waiting room, etc in an aerodrome.

Some of the examples of aerodromes are Pulkovo Airport, Vancouver International Water Airport, etc.  

Comparison Table Between Airport and Aerodrome

Parameters of ComparisonAirportAerodrome
DefinitionAn airport is a place from where aircraft (mostly for a commercial purpose) take off and land. Aerodrome refers to any location that can carry out any flight operations regardless of the type of aircraft. 
OrderAll airports are a special type of aerodromes. All aerodromes are not airports. 
GuidelinesAn airport has to maintain all guidelines set by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).There are no strict guidelines except for the conventional safety guidelines. 
AreaIt consists of an active surface (runaway for landing and take off), control towers, terminals, air traffic control, lounges, etc. It consists only of the area from where an aircraft can land and take off and can be both land or water. 
FunctionsLanding, take off, parking, maintenance, etc of an aircraft takes place here. A plane can also land and take off in an aerodrome. 
GeographyThe term “airport” is common all across the world. The term “aerodrome” is commonly used in the UK and Commonwealth countries. 

What is an Airport?

Airports are very busy public places where more than just landing and take-off of aircraft take place.

Some of the largest airports in the world employ more than 100,000 workers and hence it is a very good entity of employment.

From public transports to restaurants, everything is available at the airports.

Apart from landing and take-off, the parking of an aircraft also takes place in an airport for loading and unloading of passengers and cargo.

There are also other facilities like air traffic control, fire, and rescue department, aircraft maintenance, etc. 

The largest airport in the world in terms of area is the King Fahd International Airport located in Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

In an international airport, both domestic and international terminals are present meaning that one can travel both within and across the nation.

The United States is currently the country with the largest number of airports followed by Brazil and Mexico.

Commercial airports require a very large area for development because other than the runaways other facilities are also established.

Site location, altitude, meteorological conditions, topography, etc are some of the factors considered by airport planners before building one.

An airport can be built on any of the four basic configurations, single runway, parallel runway, open-V runway, and intersecting runway. 

What is an Aerodrome?

The word aerodrome is derived from two Greek words, aeros and dromos.

It means air course and thus it refers to any piece of the area where an aircraft (irrespective of the type) can carry out flight operations.

The word aerodrome is heavily used in the UK and Commonwealth States and not very famous in the US.

Aerodromes refer to the areas both on land and water as long as a flight can take off and land from that place.

So, the world’s biggest airport or an airstrip in a very remote place, both falls under aerodromes.

Military airbases are also known as aerodromes.

As mentioned earlier, open water bodies can also be categorized as aerodromes as long as floatplanes, seaplanes, etc can take off and land on that site.

In an aerodrome, there are no other buildings or installations like an airport.

An aerodrome can be categorized into four types. They are as follows.

  1. Airport: It can conduct several other operations than just taking off and landing. In some places, the terms airport and aerodromes are often interchanged. 
  2. Airbase: This term is mostly used for military bases and civil seaplane bases. 
  3. Airstrip: Small aerodromes located generally in remote locations with fueling equipment.
  4. Water aerodrome: These are open water aerodromes.

Main Differences Between Airport and Aerodrome

  1. An airport is a place from where aircraft (mostly for a commercial purpose) take off and land whereas an aerodrome refers to a location from where any type of aircraft (public/personal) can carry out flight operations. 
  2. All airports are a special type of aerodromes whereas all aerodromes are not airports. 
  3. An airport has to maintain all guidelines set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) whereas there is no strict set of guidelines for an aerodrome. 
  4. An airport consists of an active surface (runaway for landing and take off), control towers, terminals, air traffic control, lounges, etc whereas an aerodrome just refers to an area on land or water from where an aircraft can take off or land. 
  5. Landing, take off, parking, maintenance, etc of an aircraft takes place in an airport whereas these multiple operations don’t take place in an aerodrome. 
  6. The airport is a common word across the world whereas aerodrome is not very popular in American English and is thus used in European and Commonwealth countries. 


Though airports and aerodromes refer to the same place in many countries, they have some significant differences.

In an airport, ample services are available from doing shopping to having meals in a restaurant.

They have lounges, coffee shops, gift shops, etc. The airport is one of the busiest public places with employment opportunities. 

The airport is just a special type of aerodrome and there are other types of aerodromes as well for different purposes.

But the common feature between these two places is they are at least capable of taking off and landing aircraft for both domestic and international purposes. 


  1. https://rmets.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/met.5060020307
  2. https://canadianbirdstrike.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Paton_2010.pdf
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