The difference between an airport and an airfield.

Every airport has an airfield, but not every airfield has an airport. Let's see how an airport differs from an airfield and what types of both exist? Let's start with the fact that both words contain the Greek "aero" (in full it will be "aeros"), which means "air".

What came before - an airport or an airfield?

The word airport is a complex compound, and in addition to the Greek "aero" (air), it includes "port" (port) - a pier, a harbor (also Greek). That is, an air harbor or an air dock. The second part of the word aerodrome - "drom" (dromos) means a street or a road, that is, an airfield is an "air road". Both concepts are closely related, but not identical.

Airfields appeared almost simultaneously with the first airplanes, or airplanes, as they were then called. Initially, for the takeoff of winged machines, simply flat areas of the terrain were used, but soon it became clear that they needed to be specially equipped. The first airfield in Russia was the Gatchinsky airfield near St. Petersburg (1908), and the second appeared near Moscow on the site of the infamous Khodynskoye field, where in 1896, as a result of a stampede at the festivities on the occasion of the coronation of Nicholas II, almost one and a half thousand people died. Khodynsky airfield was officially opened in 1910 and existed until 2003 (already under the name of M. V. Frunze).

The difference between an airport and an aerodrome is that the first is a complex of buildings and structures intended for sending, receiving and servicing (maintenance, refueling, and so on) aircraft. Its buildings and structures include:

  • airfield;
  • cargo terminals;
  • hangars;
  • one or more air terminals (specialized facilities for receiving, sending and staying passengers).


Aerodrome is a complex of structures and special equipment for takeoff and landing of aircraft, located at the takeoff field, consisting of runways (runways) and places for parking and taxiing (exit to the runway) of aircraft. Aerodromes for receiving seaplanes are a special case. They do not have a runway in the usual sense; they use the water surface for takeoff and landing. The classification of aerodromes is carried out in several directions: by type of property (private, state, departmental, etc.), by purpose, by suitability to receive aircraft of different types, and so on. Let us choose the classification "by purpose", since it gives the most visual representation of modern aerodromes:

  • civil (accept passenger and cargo aircraft); there are different classes of aerodromes that characterize the ability to receive aircraft of different carrying capacity;
  • military; intended for the basing of aviation of the Ministry of Defense or the Ministry of Emergencies;
  • educational; intended for training military pilots, navigators and aircraft technicians; are combined with military airfields;
  • sports; designed for aviation and parachuting.

The airport, being a complex complex where the airfield is only one of the structures, is also classified in several directions. The most commonly used classification is by the volume of passenger traffic per year. There are five classes in total:

  • I - from 7 to 10 million people per year;
  • II - from 4 to 7 million;
  • III - from 2 to 4 million;
  • IV - from 500 thousand to 2 million;
  • V - from 100 to 500 thousand.

If an airport carries less than 100 thousand passengers per year, it is considered unclassified, if more than 10 million - out of class.


The table below summarizes the difference between an airport and an aerodrome. The classification is given in the most obvious directions; in addition, there is another division - according to the types of vessels accepted, if possible, to receive in difficult weather conditions, according to the type of runway, and so on.

Airport Airfield
What isA complex of structures designed for the reception, departure, maintenance and refueling of aircraft, as well as for the arrival, departure and stay of passengersA complex of structures for takeoff, landing, maintenance, technical servicing and refueling aircraft
What types are thereAirports by the number of passengers carried (from 100 thousand passengers to 10 million) are divided into five classes. If there are less than 100 thousand passengers, then these are unclassified airports, if more than 10 million - non-class
  • Civil.
  • Military.
  • Educational.
  • Athletic