Difference Between International and Intercontinental Airport

Transportation via air has become a very crucial part of human civilization, and for this very purpose, certain specific mechanisms are being built all across the world. The most prominent one among all of these happens to be an airport. However, depending upon the purposes served, there can be many varieties of an airport, and the most common two names being used are international and intercontinental airports. 

International vs Intercontinental Airport 

The main difference between an international and an intercontinental airport is that whenever a flight serves a destination connecting two countries belonging to a similar continent, it is known as an international flight. While on the other hand, a flight serving two destinations belonging to two different continents is known to be an intercontinental flight and is launched by an intercontinental airport. 

International and Intercontinental Airport

An International Airport is one that serves certain destinations between different countries and nations. However, in order to distinguish this particular airport from other airports, it basically serves destinations belonging to a similar continent. For example, an airport connecting flights between two countries of Asia is an International Airport. 

But on the other hand, the term intercontinental airport is nowhere defined officially by any of the airport authorities all across the world but pertaining to the specific meaning, it denotes an airport that serves two destinations belonging to two different continents. For example, an airport serving between Asia and Africa falls into this category. 

Comparison Table Between International and Intercontinental Airport 

Parameters of Comparison International Airport  Intercontinental Airport  
Meaning  The term refers to a particular airport serving destinations belonging to a similar continent. The term refers to a particular airport serving destinations belonging to different continents. 
Serves between  It serves a location on the same continent. It serves locations on different continents. 
Popular examples  Most of the airports belonging to different countries are international airports. Only one airport named George bush intercontinental airport is an example of this. 
Status  This particular term is officially defined and adopted by many airports. This particular term is not officially defined anywhere and is adopted by only one airport. 
Scope of operation  As most of the airports are being given this particular tag the scope of operation is larger. The scope of operation of this airport is narrower. 

What is International Airport? 

The term International Airport basically refers to the whole category of airports all across the world that enable passengers to travel between different countries all across the globe. These airports are built in a manner that allows people to travel and switch between as many countries as they wish; however, depending on the particular airport, there might be a restriction on travel between certain destinations. 

In order to avail facilities of these airports, a person needs to comply with international aviation standards set by all the countries they wish to travel to. A number of international airports are operating all across the globe and generating a huge amount of revenue each and every year with the increasing traffic of travelers. 

In the past two decades, the number of international airports has increased rapidly, and last checked, there were around 1200 international airports operating fully functionally all across the globe. Different countries have named their international airports after certain different things such as their famous political leaders or some cultural souvenir etc. 

What is Intercontinental Airport? 

The term intercontinental airport has not been officially designated to any airport or across the globe; however, one particular airport named George Bush intercontinental airport seemed to have used this particular term pertaining to certain specific reasons. 

In other words, the term intercontinental airport basically refers to any particular airport that serves certain destinations belonging to different continents all across the world. This term is not being officially defined by any of the international aviation agencies; however, it is still referred to by some passengers or officials in an unofficial manner. However, it can be said that an airport that serves intercontinental destinations may also be called an International Airport if it serves destinations on a similar continent. 

Therefore, in this particular manner, any airport that serves locations existing on different continents falls under the category of the intercontinental airport. For example, an airport on which certain flights are being operated between a location in Asia and a location in Africa shall be deemed to be designated as an intercontinental airport at large. 

Main Differences Between International and Intercontinental Airport 

  1. The international airport is an airport serving a particular continent, while on the other hand, the intercontinental airport is an airport serving different continents. 
  2. The international airport is a term given to the airports of many countries, while on the other hand, the intercontinental airport is a tag given to just one airport named George bush intercontinental airport. 
  3. The international airport serves locations belonging to a similar continent, while on the other hand, the intercontinental airport serves locations on different continents. 
  4. The scope of operation of international airports is wider as compared to the scope of operation of the intercontinental airport. 
  5. International airports have been given official status, while on the other hand, the intercontinental airport is a self-acclaimed term. 


Airports are like a lifeline of transportation these days, and there are a number of flights being operated from different airports all across the world in order to make traveling easier. As per the reports of the International Civil Aviation Organization, which is a specified agency of the United Nations that provides recognition to airports all across the world, there are approximately 40,000 airports that are working officially all across the world. 

However, depending on the locations these airports serve and the purpose they fulfill, there are so many different types of airports all across the globe, and the most common names among all of these types are international and intercontinental airports. The definition of both of these terms can easily be deduced from their very meaning, where the former refers to an airport serving locations on a similar continent, and the latter serves locations belonging to different continents. 


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cb.124 
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191261513000350  
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