Airports • 10 minutes to read

List of the TOP 5 African Airports in 2024

You no longer need to learn about magnificent Africa from books or movies in 2024. Due to the rapid development of tourism and airports, everyone is welcome to the southern cradle of humanity.

Sun worshipers rush to the beaches of Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt. Nature lovers admire the national parks of Kenya, Rwanda, and Tanzania. And connoisseurs of habitual conveniences in a tropical climate visit the boulevards of Johannesburg and the island country of Cabo Verde.

Because Africa has grown into a huge tourist destination, the continent has seen a huge airport development in the last decade.

Here’s our list of the top 5 African airports.

TOP 5 biggest airports in Africa

  • O. R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Cairo International Airport, Egypt
  • Cape Town International Airport, South Africa
  • Mohammed V International Airport, Casablanca, Morocco
  • Houari Boumediene Airport, Alger, Algeria

O. R. Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, South Africa — Fly to the cradle of humankind

OR Tambo International Airport is the most crucial airport for domestic and international travel to and from South Africa. It is Africa’s busiest airport, with passenger numbers hitting 16 million a year. The airport services airlines with routes to five different continents and is the hub of South Africa’s most prominent international and domestic carrier, South African Airways (SAA.)


Everything you need to know about O. R. Tambo International Airport

Area 16.73 km2 Distance from city center 26 km
Airport code JNB Number of lounges 15
Date opened 1952 Number of airlines 41
Passenger no. 21.6 mln Smoking Area yes
Number of flight routes 93 both domestic and international

O. R. Tambo International Airport: practical tips

Beware of catching local taxis (white minivans) when you land. The fares are low, but personal safety is dubious. So choose Uber or high-speed Gautrain.

Check out featured African fast food, like at Debonairs and Steers. The Keg & Aviator pub is perfect for those who need a sip of courage before their long-awaited flight.

For shopping with some African spirit, head for Out of Africa. This is where you will find souvenirs that will bring back memories of the trip, from Zulu beadwork to stuffed safari toys.

Interesting facts you should know about

O.R. Tambo (the past president) lived in exile abroad for 30 years. His eight-foot statue at the airport’s International Arrivals shows the politician’s epic arrival from exile.

Two of the airport’s runways are longer than most airports worldwide. This is because of its location being 1700 meters above sea level. Since their introduction of them, pilots couldn’t be more thankful as they have provided less friction for airplanes when they take off and land.

The South African government introduced a national policy of not naming airports after politicians in 1994. That is why it was renamed Johannesburg International Airport in 2006.

Average monthly temperatures in Johannesburg, South Africa

Average Monthly Temperatures Johannesburg South Africa

Cairo International Airport, Cairo, Egypt — Fly over the Pyramids

Cairo International Airport is the busiest airport in Egypt by traffic and the second most active in the entire African continent. The airport’s location is a treasure for travelers in a rush because one of the main shrines of Egypt, the Pyramids of Giza, is just 40 kilometers from here.

There are three terminals at Cairo International Airport. The airport is the main hub of Egypt’s national carrier – EgyptAir, a member of Star Alliance.


Everything you need to know about Cairo International Airport

Area 37 km2 Distance from city center 16 km
Airport code CAI Number of lounges12 12
Date opened 1963 Number of airlines 58
Passenger no. 28 mln Smoking Area yes
Number of flight routes 92 both domestic and international

Cairo International Airport: practical tips

There are no lockers at Cairo International Airport. So, you’ll have to keep all your personal items with you and make sure they are safe yourself.

It’s better to take a white taxi rather than a black one. White taxis have counters, price lists, air conditioners, and other conveniences. The black ones have no counter, and drivers charge for mileage whichever way they like.

If sleeping at the airport is not a big deal, find lightly padded benches at Terminal 3, Level 3. You will get some good sleep!

Interesting facts you should know about

It might sound funny today, but handling 200 passengers an hour was a significant amount for Cairo International Airport back in the 1940s.

Planes heading to Cairo Airport land directly above the Pyramids, so you can even admire this wonder of the world from your window.

In 1970, an aircraft flying from Amsterdam to New York City was hijacked and landed in Cairo after refueling and picking up another hijacker in Beirut. The aircraft was blown up after everyone got out, and the hijackers were later arrested.

Average monthly temperatures in Cairo, Egypt

Average Monthly Temperatures Cairo Egypt

Cape Town International Airport, South Africa — The airport with the largest restaurant on the African continent

Cape Town International Airport is the second largest airport in South Africa after OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Cape Town International Airport represents the city’s elegance and first-world appeal to tourists and perfectly suits business flyers’ needs. Numerous conference halls at the airport can accommodate from six to 80 people.

Hong,Kong Aircraft

Everything you need to know about Cape Town International Airport

Area 2.8 km2 Distance from city center 20 km
Airport code CPT Number of lounges 7
Date opened 1954 Number of airlines 29
Passenger no. 10.9 mln Smoking Area yes
Number of flight routes 32 both domestic and international

Cape Town International Airport: Practical tips

The airport operates 24/7, but most restaurants close at 21:00. Grab a few snacks in advance if you have to spend a few more hours in the airport at night.

It’s always possible to make your dream of flying a helicopter come true. And not a simulator, a real one! Base 4 Flight Academy is located right next to the airport, where you can learn.

For those who don’t like sleeping at the airport, there is a perfect chance to see “Africa’s greenest hotel” — Hotel Verde, a four-star hotel owned by Bon Hotels.

Interesting facts you should know about

The largest restaurant by size in Africa is at Cape Town Airport. It is Spur Steak Ranches at 1,080 m2 by area, a chain of restaurants in Africa and Australia.

In 2022, the airport won “Best Airport in Africa,” “Best Staff in Africa,” and “Cleanest Airport in Africa.”

Mohammed V International Airport, Casablanca, Morocco — Fly into a historic city

Mohammed V International Airport, also known as Casablanca Airport, is Morocco’s most used international airport. There are flights all around Africa and Europe and some places in North America, South America, and Asia.

Casablanca Mohammed V International Airport is a hub for Royal Air Maroc, Royal Air Maroc Express, and Air Arabia Maroc. It’s the busiest airport in Morocco and on the African continent.


Everything you need to know about Mohammed V International Airport

Area 1.1 km2 Distance from city center 32 km
Airport code CMN Number of lounges 5
Date opened 1943 Number of airlines 45
Passenger no. 10.3 mln Smoking Area yes
Number of flight routes 83 both domestic and international

Mohammed V International Airport: Practical tips

Casablanca International Airport is open 24 hours. However, almost all the shops and food places close by 22:00. Make sure you grab a snack before you fly to satisfy your craving.

Wi-Fi internet access at the airport is available at no charge for a limited period of only 30 minutes. In addition, a few cafes on the ground floor, near the train station, offer paid Wi-Fi service to passengers.

Interesting facts you should know about

The airport is named after King Mohammed V of Morocco. He led the country’s successful push for independence from French and Spanish colonial rule.

In 2018, Mohammed V International Airport ranked as one of the best airports in Africa, according to a survey by Airports Council International (ACI).

Even today, you can hear elderly people calling Mohammed V International Airport “Nouasseur.” During the Cold War, the airfield was reopened under the name of Nouasseur Air Base and mainly was used as a location for the United States Air Force.

Average monthly temperatures in Casablanca, Morocco

Average Monthly Temperatures Casablanca Morocco

Houari Boumediene Airport, Algiers, Algeria

Houari Boumediene Airport is the major airport in Algeria. It receives regular flights flown by civilian airlines. It is used mainly by the flag carrier Air Algérie as a hub linking Algeria to several countries in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Canada, and China.

The international terminal (Terminal 1) can handle up to 6 million passengers annually. It was unveiled on July 5, 2006, by Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The domestic terminal (Terminal 2), upgraded in 2007, provides a capacity for up to 2.5 million passengers annually. And Terminal 3 is mainly dedicated to charter flights, Hadj and Omr.


Everything you need to know about Houari Boumediene Airport (Algiers International Airport)

Area 7.3 km2 Distance from city center 16 km
Airport code ALG Number of lounges 2
Date opened 1923 Number of airlines 22
Passenger no. 7.5 mln Smoking Area yes
Number of flight routes 63 both domestic and international

Houari Boumediene Airport: practical tips

Look for Aero Ville buses to get to the Algiers city center from the airport or the other way around. Otherwise, catch a taxi outside Hall 2. But remember that drivers don’t have cab meters, so agree on the price beforehand to avoid misunderstanding.

There are a few shops and cafes in Houari Boumediene Airport (sometimes closed). For snacks or shopping before a flight, visit the nearest Bab Ezzouar shopping mall, which is ten minutes away from the airport.

Interesting facts you should know about

The airport is named after Houari Boumediene, a former president of Algeria.

In 1968, three members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine hijacked a Boeing 707 with 48 passengers and crew on board and seized it at Algiers Airport. In the end, all 48 hostages were released.

In 1981, after a diplomatic crisis, 52 hostages from the American embassy in Iran were taken from Tehran in Iran to Algiers Airport.

Need more tips and tricks about the busiest airports in Africa? Look at stories!

Frequently asked questions

How many airports are there in Africa?
There are 477 airports in Africa.
Which African Airports have pet relief areas?
Currently, only OR Tambo International Airport in South Africa has a pet relief area.
Which are the best African airports for plane spotting?
Plane spotting fans praise O.R. Tambo Airport for its terraces in each terminal. Also, they recommend Rand Airport. If you ask kindly in the old terminal, they may provide you with an escort around the ramps. The same goes for Wonderboom Airport.
Which African airports are close to ski resorts?
O.R. Tambo Airport is the closest to Afriski Mountain, a marvelous ski resort.
Which African airports are close to beaches?