The Busiest Airports In India

The Arrival Hall of Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Editorial credit: Alisa24 /
The Arrival Hall of Terminal 3 of Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi. Editorial credit: Alisa24 /

The aviation industry in Asia has seen rapid growth over the years, and this has been evident especially in India where the industry has in the recent years has experienced the fastest growth in the world. According to aircraft manufacturer Boeing, India has a projected demand for 1,740 aircrafts over the next two decades while Airbus projects a growth rate of 11% over the next decade in India. India boasts 132 airports, a few of which handle enough traffic to put them on a global scale. Below, we take a look at the most important airports in India in terms of annual passenger volume.

5. Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport, Kolkata - 19.9 million passengers

The Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata, West Bengal, is the fifth busiest airport in India, serving 19.9 million passengers every year. Due to its location in the northeast of the country, the airport also serves passengers living in parts of China and Bhutan. In the 2000s, the airport went through a modernization project that helped increase the airport's capacity drastically.

4. Chennai International Airport, Chennai - 20.4 million passengers

The Chennai International Airport, like its name would suggest, serves the city of Chennai, in Tamil Nadu. The airport serves slightly more passengers than the airport in Kolkata, with around 20.4 million people served. The airport serves as a hub for several Indian airlines, including jet Airways and IndiGo. The airport has existed since 1910, making it one of the earliest airports to have been constructed in the country.

3. Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru - 26.9 million passengers

The Kempegowda International Airport serves the southern Indian city of Bengaluru, or Bangalore. With 26.9 passengers served every year, its numbers represent quite a decrease from the counts recorded in Mumbai and Delhi. As an IT hotspot, and one of the most populated cities in India, Bangalore attracts both international and domestic visitors. Its airport's single runway was opened in 2008. A second runway is currently under construction.

2. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai - 48.5 million passengers

Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the main airport serving the city of Mumbai. The airport is the second busiest airport in India behind the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi and can handle 850 aircraft movements per day. Initially known as the RAF Santacruz, the airport is named after the 17th-century historical figure having been constructed in 1942 by the colonial government and was used as an airbase by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The 1970s saw the aviation industry welcome the “Jumbo Jet era” where Boeing and Airbus built large airliners which made major airports expand to accommodate the gigantic planes. For the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, this meant the opening of new terminals to facilitate this growth in traffic hence commissioned the existing two terminals in the airport.

1. Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi - 65.7 million passengers

The Indira Gandhi International Airport is the primary airport in India and is located in the national’s capital of Delhi. The airport is the largest in the country and is also the busiest both regarding passenger traffic and cargo handling. The facility has a handling capacity of over 60 million passengers. The airport was originally known as the Palam Airport having been built in 1962, and was used by the Indian Air Force for military purposes as an Air Force Station. The airport experienced increased traffic in the 1970s, and there was the need for an additional terminal to decongest the existing one. Terminal 2 was opened in May 1986, and with its opening, the airport was renamed Indira Gandhi International Airport. The terminal had a capacity of handling over 12.5 million passengers annually. However, after several years the airport was getting more passengers than its capacity and needed a new terminal. The latest terminal, Terminal 3 was opened in 2010 and now exclusively handles all international airlines. On the global scale, the Indira Gandhi International Airport ranks 16th.

Global Significance Of Indian Aviation Industry

The Indian aviation industry is the ninth largest in the world and numbers are only projected to grow in the future. Indian airports play a key role in Asian markets and make India the fourth largest aviation market in Asia after the Middle East, Japan, and China respectively. The international traffic is projected to attain a growth rate of more than 10% in the next decade. To ensure the air traffic growth is sustainable, the Indian Government has passed several legislations including the National Civil Aviation Policy in June 2016, which covers many areas in the aviation industry and is viewed as the most important policy associated with the aviation industry.

Which Are The Busiest Airports In India?

RankAirportCityPassengers (Annual)
1Indira Gandhi International AirportDelhi65,691,662
2Chhatrapati Shivaji International AirportMumbai48,496,430
3Kempegowda International AirportBengaluru26,910,431
4Chennai International AirportChennai20,361,482
5Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International AirportKolkata19,892,524
6Rajiv Gandhi International AirportHyderabad18,156,789
7Cochin International AirportKochi10,172,839
8Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International AirportAhmedabad9,174,425
9Pune AirportPune8,164,840
10Dabolim AirportGoa7,607,249

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