An airport is a designated location for aircraft to take off and land. While smaller airports—often called aerodromes, airfields or landing strips—might include short (one or two kilometer) dirt or grass runways, larger airports for international flights normally feature paved runways several kilometers long. Both large and small airports can be towered or uncontrolled, depending on funds and traffic, although most international airports have air traffic control located on site.
International airports generally have a complex of buildings where passengers can embark on airliners, and where cargo can be stored and loaded. The buildings where passengers interface with ground transportation, purchase tickets, transfer their luggage, and go through security are typically called terminals, and the buildings that provide access to the airplanes are typically called concourses. However, these two terms can be interchangeable. Customs facilities for international travel often distinguish an international airport, and require a more conspicuous level of physical security.
The largest international airports are often located next to freeways or are served by their own freeways. Often, traffic is fed into two access roads, designed as loops, one sitting on top of the other. One level is for departing passengers and the other is for arrivals.
Other airport services
For private craft and charter airlines, aircraft maintenance, pilot services, aircraft rental, and hangar rental is most often performed by a fixed base operator.
Airport designation and naming
Airports are uniquely represented by their IATA airport code and ICAO airport code. In the U.S. and certain other countries, they are often named after a prominent local celebrity, commonly a politician.
The traffic generated by airports both in the air and on the surface can be a major source of aviation noise and air pollution which may, in extreme cases, be harmful to health or interrupt sleep. The construction of new airports, or addition of runways to existing airports, is often resisted by local residents because of the effect on the countryside, historical sites, local flora and fauna.
An aircraft carrier is a naval ship that serves as mobile seaborne military airfield.
- ATCSCC Real-time Airport Status page (http://www.fly.faa.gov/flyfaa/usmap.jsp) - shows airport delay times for major U.S. airports
- AFRICASPOTTER.at.tt (http://www.africaspotter.at.tt) - Airports in Southern Africa