World's 13 most beautiful airports

PHOTO: The Straits Times

An airport is more than just a transportation hub.

According to Citylab, airports play a crucial role in economic development as it moves people. The number of passengers and flights is said to be related to economic output, wages and income.

Fortunately, more and more airports are being upgraded and modernized, giving comfort to passengers and supporting a country's economy.

So where are the most beautiful airports in the world located? Below is a list of 13 of them, according to Curbed.


Designed by Turkish architecture studio Autoban, Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku, Azerbaijan, boasts concave external glass walls, cocoon houses, cafes, bars, stores and amenities.

The airport is said to be able to accommodate more than 5 million passengers each year.


Located in the heart of the United States' Mountain West, Denver International Airport in Denver, Colorado, is among the world's most beautiful airports.

The fabric-covered tents, which were designed to mimic Colorado's snow-capped Rocky Mountains, are a unique architectural feature of the airport.


Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport, popularly known as Madrid-Barajas Airport, is located 12 kilometers away from the city centre of Madrid.

The airport was upgraded in 2006 by architect Richard Rogers. It features an unusual wave-shaped roof that is supported by central "trees," allowing natural light to enter the upper level of the terminal.


Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, Kansai International Airport in Osaka, Japan, first opened its doors in 1994.

The airport, built in Osaka Bay, was the first "ocean" airport that handled up to 100,000 passengers a day.


Opened right before the 2008 Olympics, the two-mile long Terminal 3 of the Beijing Capital International Airport is among the world's largest buildings.

Designed by architecture firm Foster+Partners, the airport uses a traditional Chinese colour scheme of red and yellow to celebrate Chinese history and culture.

Furthermore, the terminal building and transportation centre were designed to handle up to 50 million passengers each year by 2020.


Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, India, first welcomed passengers in 2014. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM), the terminal was built to accommodate the city's growing influx of visitors.

The design features a gigantic roof canopy, which was inspired by vernacular Indian pavilions. The airport is also equipped with curbside drop-off zones, which were designed to accommodate traditional Indian arrival and departure ceremonies.


Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, is one of Asia's largest airports.

Designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa, the building features an Islamic-style shading roof anchored by massive columns made with sleek stainless steel.


Menara Airport in Marrakech, Morocco, was completed in 2008. Designed by Swiss Architects E2A Architecture, the building features stylized Islamic ornamental designs and a gorgeous façade. The design is said to be an example of how a contemporary building can use traditional patterns.


Kutaisi International Airport, also known as David the Builder Kutaisi International Airport, is a small airport located in Kutaisi, Georgia.

Designed by Dutch architecture firm UNStudio, the building features bright red colors that help passengers to easily navigate the airport.

The building also features large windows, creating a light-filled interior with views of the Caucasus Mountains.



Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport is located in Bao'an district, Shenzhen, China.

Designed by Rome-based architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, the airport's Terminal 3 building is considerably unique as it looks like a manta ray from above.


Designed by London-based architecture firm Grimshaw Architects, Pulkovo International Airport in St. Petersburg, Russia, was completed in 2014 and is expected to welcome around 12 million passengers each year.

The building features a large flat roof that can withstand heavy snowfall.


Situated in Amman, Jordan, Queen Alia International Airport features concrete domes designed by Foster+Partners. The domes are said to be inspired by Bedoui tents and its underside is embossed like the surface of a leaf. Browns and cream colors match the surrounding desert.


Changi Airport in Singapore is frequently voted as one of the best airports in the world.

Changi Airport Terminal 4 opens for business

  • Changi Airport's newest terminal - T4 - started its first day of operations on Oct 31, 2017, marking a critical milestone in Singapore's aviation history.
  • Airport operations went off without a hitch, with passengers for the first flight out to Hong Kong streaming in as early as 4am to the departure hall to use the self-check-in facilities.
  • Passengers from first flight Cathay CX650 waiting at the boarding gate.
  • Passengers from first flight Cathay CX650 getting a free luggage tag from Cathay before boarding the plane.
  • Airport staff were on hand to guide them through the process.
  • The first arriving and departing flights at T4 were operated by Cathay Pacific - CX659 from Hong Kong arrived at 5.40am and CX650 departed Singapore for Hong Kong at 6.50am.
  • Passengers arriving from Hong Kong on CX659 were greeted at the arrival gate by airport staff with orchids and goodie bags.
  • At the baggage collection area, they were entertained by an instrumental quartet, and also treated to coffee and breakfast.
  • Passengers said the arrival hall was spacious, adding that the walk from the arrival gate to immigration was fuss-free, with clear signage.
  • T4 is the newest terminal for Changi in 10 years after Terminal 3 was opened in 2007.
  • The new terminal features new technologies, systems and procedures, such as a facial recognition system that will capture a passenger's photo at different stations, centralised security screening, as well as start-to-end self-service options for check-in.
  • To ensure that the high-tech systems were up to speed to handle passengers, a total of 150 trials involving 10,000 volunteers and airport staff to test different systems and processes were carried out before the terminal's opening.
  • Cathay Pacific and Korean Air are the first airlines to operate out of T4. The remaining airlines, including Cebu Pacific, Spring Airlines, the AirAsia group and Vietnam Airlines, will progressively move over a week.
  • With T4, Changi Airport will be able to handle up to 16 million passengers a year, increasing its overall annual capacity to 82 million passengers.
  • This will provide the necessary capacity until the next major injection comes in about 10 to 12 years through the opening of Terminal 5.
  • Shilla Duty Free and DFS stores at Changi Airport Terminal 4.
  • The entertainment corner of Changi Airport Terminal 4.
  • T4 features curated art pieces, innovative kinetic art and many more to elevate the Changi Experience.
  • Nature and man coexist within the confines of the building.
  • Travellers headed to the boarding area will get a clear view of Runway 2.
  • With a high ceiling and no columns in the building, the view from the top is clear, and visitors will have no trouble finding their way around.
  • With petal-shaped skylights, the terminal is flooded with natural light.
  • T4 Departure Hall
  • Cushy chairs provide a comfortable waiting area for visitors.
  • The greenwall facade has 16,000 plants draped on it.
  • T4 Open House route

The airport's Terminal 3 was opened in 2008, allowing it to welcome more passengers.

In addition to its swanky design, Terminal 3 also includes a "Green Wall" and a butterfly garden.