The 20 Highest Airports In The World

Leh Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport, Ladakh, India.
Leh Kushok Bakula Rinpoche Airport, Ladakh, India.

Airports are fascinating structures which facilitate movement of millions of people and thousands of tons of commodities. Airports are located all over the world with the majority built within the peripheries of the main cities and towns. However, there are several areas in the world where airports are constructed in extremely high altitudes with the China having six of the top ten highest airports in the world.

1. Daocheng Yading Airport (China)

The Daocheng Yading Airport is an airport located in the Sangdui Township in the Sichuan province of China. The airport serves the Sichuan province and has a capacity of handling 280,000 passengers per year. Constructed in a mountainous region, the Daocheng Yading Airport sits 14,472 feet above sea level and holds the title of the highest airport in the world since its construction in September 16th, 2013 at the cost of $255 million. Three airline companies use the airport and are comprised of Air China, Sichuan Airlines, and the China Eastern Airlines all of which have flights to Chengdu.

2. Qamdo Airport (China)

The Qamdo Airport is a public airport located in the Tibet region of China. Located near the Himalayas at an altitude of 14,219 feet above sea level the Qamdo Airport is the second highest airport in the world. The airport was the highest airport in the world before it was surpassed by the Daocheng Yading Airport. However, the Qamdo Bamda Airport still holds the record of having the longest paved runway of any public airport with its runways stretching 3.4 miles. A second runway is under construction and is expected to be in service by 2018.The airlines which use the Qamdo Bamda Airport are Air China and Tibet Airlines.

3. Kangding Airport (China)

The Kangding Airport is a Chinese airport located in the Tibetan Autonomous Area of Sichuan Province. The Kangding Airport’s construction was undertaken by a Chinese company, Zhongnan Airports Construction Corporation. It commenced in 2006 and was opened on October 18th, 2009 at the cost of $125 million. Built on the Zheduo Mountain, the Kangding Airport is the third highest airport in the world with an elevation of 14,042 feet above sea level.

4. Ngari Gunsa Airport (China)

The Ngari Gunsa Airport is a Chinese mixed-use airport located in the Ngari Prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Ngari Gunsa is used for both military and civil purposes and serves the town of Shiquanhe. The airport ranks fourth as the highest airports in the world and is located at 14,022 feet above sea level. The Ngari Gunsa Airport was constructed in 2007 at the cost of over $241 million and is located near important religious sites.

Conditions At High Altitude Airports

While airports located at high altitudes offer spectacular scenery, the climatic and weather conditions are some of the worst in the world of aviation. The presence of thin air makes the atmospheric pressure extremely low. These conditions make it difficult for an airplane to gain lift. Additionally, less air resistance increases the need for deceleration of an aircraft when landing and hence such airports require longer runways.

The 20 Highest Airports In The World

RankAirport nameCountryElevation (feet)
1Daocheng Yading AirportChina14,472
2Qamdo Bamda AirportChina14,219
3Kangding AirportChina14,042
4Ngari Gunsa AirportChina14,022
5El Alto International AirportBolivia13,323
6Uyuni AirportBolivia12,972
7Captain Nicolas Rojas AirportBolivia12,913
8Yushu Batang AirportChina12,762
9Inca Manco Cápac International AirportPeru12,552
10Shigatse Peace AirportChina12,408
11Juan Mendoza AirportBolivia12,146
12Lhasa Gonggar AirportChina11,713
13Hongyuan AirportChina11,598
14Jiuzhai Huanglong AirportChina11,312
15Andahuaylas AirportPeru11,299
16Francisco Carle AirportPeru11,033
17Manang AirportNepal11,001
18Alejandro Velasco Astete International AirportPeru10,860
19Ninglang Luguhu AirportChina10,804
20Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe AirportIndia10,682

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