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Airport vs. Aerodrome: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 29, 2023
Airport is a complex with runways for flights' takeoff/landing; Aerodrome is any area used for flight operations, less complex.

Key Differences

An airport is a large facility, often international, with extensive services for passengers and cargo. An aerodrome is a simpler term referring to any area where flight operations can occur, regardless of the facilities present.
Airports usually have multiple runways, advanced navigation aids, and accommodate heavy air traffic. Aerodromes might have basic facilities, sometimes with just a single runway or even a simple flat area suitable for takeoffs and landings.
Airports facilitate significant air travel, international or domestic, and incorporate amenities like retail, security, and immigration controls. Aerodromes, conversely, can even be a field or water body used for landing or floatplanes.
The terminology varies globally: "airport" often implies a certain size and traffic level, while "aerodrome" is a broader term in international aviation agreements, encompassing any area, including airports, used for aircraft operations.
Regulatory oversight for airports is stricter due to higher traffic and more complex operations, requiring detailed protocols for safety and efficiency. Aerodromes, especially private or smaller ones, may have more relaxed regulations due to their reduced complexity and lower traffic volumes.

Comparison Chart

Size & Facilities

Larger, with extensive facilities
Simpler, with basic facilities or none


Heavy air traffic, multiple runways
May have light traffic, single runway or just flat area


International/domestic passenger and cargo services
Any aircraft operation, including private flights

Amenities & Services

Retail, security, immigration controls
Minimal amenities

Regulatory Oversight

Stricter regulations due to complexity
May have relaxed regulations

Airport and Aerodrome Definitions


A complex for aircraft takeoff, landing, and maintenance.
We arrived at the airport two hours before our flight.


Can be as simple as a field used by aircraft.
Pilots practiced take-offs and landings at the local aerodrome.


A facility offering passenger services and amenities.
The airport's lounge is exceptionally comfortable.


Used for flight training and recreational flying.
The aerodrome is busy on weekends with flight enthusiasts.


A secured area governed by strict regulatory compliances.
Security measures at the airport are incredibly stringent.


A designated area for aircraft operation.
The small town has its own aerodrome for private planes.


A hub for domestic and international flight routes.
This airport serves as a major hub for numerous airlines.


Doesn't necessarily have extensive facilities.
Unlike major airports, the rural aerodrome has limited services.


An area with runways, control tower, and terminal buildings.
The airport underwent extensive renovations to expand its capacity.


Can include small airports and airfields.
The military aerodrome was repurposed for civil aviation use.


A place where aircraft take off and land, usually equipped with hard-surfaced landing strips, a control tower, hangars, aircraft maintenance and refueling facilities, and accommodations for passengers and cargo.


An airport or airfield.


An airfield (an area designated for the takeoff and landing of aircraft), including one or more runways and (for commercial airports) one or more passenger terminals.


An airfield:


An airfield equipped with control tower and hangers as well as accommodations for passengers and cargo


Any area of land or water used for aircraft operation, regardless of facilities.


An airfield used for managed aircraft operation, either military or civilian, having such facilities as are necessary for operation.


(British) An airfield equipped with air traffic control facilities and hangars as well as accommodation for passengers and cargo; an airport.


(obsolete) A flying machine composed of airfoils, aerodynamic surfaces. An airplane, aircraft, particularly one constructed by or according to the design of Samuel Pierpont Langley and Charles M. Manly.


A shed for housing an airship or aëroplane.


An airfield equipped with control tower and hangers as well as accommodations for passengers and cargo


Is an aerodrome different from an airport?

Yes, an aerodrome refers to any area for aircraft operations, while an airport is a specific type of aerodrome with more extensive facilities.

What facilities can you expect at an airport?

Runways, control towers, terminals, passenger services, and more.

Are there private aerodromes?

Yes, many aerodromes serve private or recreational aircraft.

Can aerodromes serve commercial flights?

Some can, especially if they have adequate facilities, but many serve general aviation.

Do all airports handle cargo?

Most do, but the extent varies based on the airport's size and capabilities.

Are aerodromes always smaller than airports?

They can be, but the term is flexible and can refer to any area, regardless of size, used for aircraft operations.

Are there aerodromes without regular flight schedules?

Yes, especially those for private or recreational use.

Can any flat area be considered an aerodrome?

Technically, yes, if it's used for taking off and landing aircraft.

Are there international aerodromes?

The term is broad; any airport can technically be an aerodrome, including international ones.

Do airports have stricter security measures?

Typically, due to higher passenger volumes and international regulations.

Are aerodromes located outside cities?

They can be found both within and outside of urban areas.

Do airports require more staff than aerodromes?

Generally, yes, due to their larger scale and range of services.

Do airports handle more traffic than aerodromes?

Generally, yes, as they're equipped for higher volumes.

Can an aerodrome lack a paved runway?

Yes, some have grass, dirt, or gravel runways.

Can an aerodrome be for military use only?

Yes, some aerodromes are restricted for military purposes.

Is an airport necessarily part of an aerodrome?

Yes, every airport is technically an aerodrome, but not every aerodrome qualifies as an airport.

Are airports always open to the public?

Most are, but there are also private airports with restricted access.

Do both airports and aerodromes have control towers?

Airports usually do, but aerodromes, especially smaller ones, may not.

Can you find aerodromes in remote locations?

Yes, they're often in remote areas for private, emergency, or regional services.

What's the main advantage of aerodromes over airports?

Aerodromes can often accommodate aviation activities that don't require the complex infrastructure of larger airports.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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