Difference Between Airport and Aerodrome (With Table)

Navigating Aviation Terminology: Airport vs. Aerodrome

Unraveling the World of Aviation Infrastructure

  • The terms airport and aerodrome are used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings and implications within the aviation industry. Understanding the differences between these two terms is crucial for those involved in aviation, including pilots, air traffic controllers, and enthusiasts. This article aims to clarify the distinctions between airports and aerodromes.

Defining an Airport

What is an Airport?

  • An airport specializes in aircraft arrival, departure, and maintenance. It is a point of origin, destination, or transit for passengers and cargo. Airports encompass various services, including terminal buildings, runways, taxiways, aprons, and ground support facilities.

Key Features of an Airport

  1. Terminal Buildings: Airports have passenger terminals with check-in counters, security screening, customs and immigration facilities, boarding gates, baggage claim areas, and amenities such as restaurants and shops.
  2. Runways and Taxiways: Airports include runways, designated surfaces for aircraft takeoff and landing, and taxiways for aircraft movement on the ground.
  3. Aircraft Parking: Aprons or aircraft parking areas are available for aircraft to park, load/unload passengers and cargo, and undergo maintenance.
  4. Air Traffic Control: Airports have control towers staffed by air traffic controllers who manage aircraft movements, ensuring safe takeoffs, landings, and taxiing on the ground.
  5. Navigational Aids: They are equipped with navigational aids such as runway lighting, instrument landing systems (ILS), and radio beacons to assist aircraft during arrival and departure.

Types of Airports

  • Airports can be categorized into various types based on size, function, and location. Some common types include:
    • International Airports: Capable of handling international flights and customs procedures.
    • Regional Airports: Serve a specific region and may have limited international operations.
    • Domestic Airports: Primarily handle domestic flights within a country.
    • General Aviation Airports: Cater to private and smaller aircraft.
    • Heliports: Specialized for helicopters.
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Understanding an Aerodrome

What is an Aerodrome?

  • An aerodrome is a more encompassing term that refers to any area, either on land or water, used for the arrival, departure, and movement of aircraft. Aerodromes include airports but also encompass a broader spectrum of aviation infrastructure.

Key Features of an Aerodrome

  1. Variety of Facilities: Aerodromes can vary widely in terms of infrastructure. They may include airports, heliports, seaplane bases, gliderports, and temporary landing areas.
  2. Heliports and Seaplane Bases: Aerodromes can include specialized facilities like heliports for helicopters and seaplane bases for seaplanes and amphibious aircraft.
  3. Military Airfields: Some aerodromes are operated by the military and serve defense purposes. These may not be classified as airports but are considered aerodromes.
  4. Temporary Landing Areas: In some cases, open fields or other areas can be designated temporary aerodromes for specific events or emergencies.
  5. Limited Services: Aerodromes other than airports may have limited passenger facilities or primarily serve specific aviation activities, such as military operations or glider flying.

Global Standards

  • The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) sets global standards and regulations for aerodromes to ensure safety, security, and uniformity in aviation operations. These standards apply to all types of aerodromes, including airports.

Key Differences

Let’s explore the key differences between an Airport and an Aerodrome:


  • Airport: A specialized facility for aircraft arrival, departure, and maintenance, serving as a point of origin, destination, or transit for passengers and cargo.
  • Aerodrome: A broader term encompassing any area, land or water, used for aircraft operations, including airports, heliports, seaplane bases, and more.


  • Airport: Includes passenger terminals, runways, taxiways, aprons, and comprehensive facilities to handle commercial aviation.
  • Aerodrome: Encompasses a wide range of aviation infrastructure, including airports, heliports, seaplane bases, military airfields, and temporary landing areas.
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  • Airport: Primarily caters to commercial aviation, accommodating airlines, passengers, and cargo operations.
  • Aerodrome: Can serve various aviation purposes, including private, military, and specialized operations beyond commercial flights.


  • Airport: Universally referred to as an “airport” worldwide.
  • Aerodrome: A more inclusive term, encompassing various types of aviation facilities.

Passenger Services

  • Airport: Equipped with extensive passenger services, including check-in counters, security screening, customs, immigration, boarding gates, amenities, and baggage claim areas.
  • Aerodrome: May have limited passenger services, especially at specialized facilities like heliports or military aerodromes.


  • Airport: Can be categorized based on size and function, including international, regional, domestic, general aviation, and heliports.
  • Aerodrome: Encompasses a broader range, including airports, heliports, seaplane bases, gliderports, military airfields, and temporary landing areas.

Table: Summary of Differences

Here’s a summary table highlighting the key differences between an Airport and an Aerodrome:

DefinitionSpecialized facility for aircraft operationsBroad term encompassing various aviation areas
InfrastructureComprehensive, including terminals, runways, taxiways, and passenger facilitiesVaried, ranging from airports to heliports, seaplane bases, and more
FunctionalityPrimarily for commercial aviationServes various aviation purposes
NomenclatureUniversally referred to as “airport”More inclusive term for aviation facilities
Passenger ServicesExtensive passenger servicesMay have limited passenger services
TypesCategorized by size and function (e.g., international, regional, domestic)Encompasses a broader range of aviation facilities (e.g., airports, heliports, seaplane bases)


Airports and aerodromes are fundamental components of the aviation infrastructure but differ in scope and inclusiveness. An airport is a specialized facility dedicated to commercial aviation, encompassing various features like passenger terminals, runways, and taxiways.

On the other hand, an aerodrome is a broader term that includes all areas used for aircraft operations, ranging from airports to heliports, seaplane bases, military airfields, and more. Understanding these distinctions is essential for aviation professionals and enthusiasts as they navigate the world of aviation infrastructure and operations.

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Hi! I'm Nidhi.

Here at the EHL, it's all about delicious, easy recipes for casual entertaining. So come and join me at the beach, relax and enjoy the food.

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