The Busiest Airports in Germany

Hamburg airport

In this post, we’re going to to look at the busiest airports in Germany. Two years have now passed since the pandemic started and air travel has still not fully recovered. We will therefore look at figures from both 2019 (the last year fully unaffected by Covid-19) and 2021.

Figures are rounded up or down to the nearest 100,000 for all international airports in Germany. Passenger numbers relate to the annual total including both domestic and international travel and are according to the data from ADV for 2019 and 2021.

The Busiest Airports in Germany by Passenger Numbers (in 2019)

  1. Frankfurt Airport

Frankfurt Airport rainbow
Frankfurt Airport via cattan2011, CC BY 2.0

The main airport in Germany for international flights is Frankfurt. It has served more passengers than any other airport in every single year in the country since air travel really began to take off in the 1960’s and was seriously busy in 2019 with a new record of over 70 million passengers.

Its status as Germany’s biggest airport is somewhat surprising given Frankfurt is only the 5th largest city in the country. However it is its main financial hub and one of the economic powerhouses in the EU with millions of business travellers flying in and out each year.

It is far more than just a business airport though with excellent train links to other German cities ensuring it is the most popular airport with Germans looking for holidays and trips across the world. As of 2017, it was actually the airport with the most direct destinations in the world with more than 300 spread out across five different continents.

Number of Passengers in 2019: 70.6 million

  1. Munich Airport

Another of the big airports in Germany is found in Munich which handled almost 50 million passengers in 2019, making it comfortably the second busiest after Frankfurt.

Consisting of two runways and two passenger terminals, Munich Airport first opened its doors to passengers in the early 1990’s replacing the old Munich-Riem Airport. It retains a modern feel to this day and that helps it receive mostly positive reviews and while it may not be one of the very best airports in the world, it’s certainly one of the better ones in Europe.

It benefited from German flag-carrier Lufthansa’s decision to open a second hub at the airport with its Frankfurt hub stretched to capacity. It is certainly the main gateway into Bavaria and Southwest Germany and is also the closest major international airport for many Austrians.

Number of Passengers in 2019: 47.9 million

  1. Düsseldorf Airport


The third busiest airport in Germany as of 2019 was Dusseldorf and it serves as the main entry/exit port into the heavily populated Rhine-Ruhr region, Germany’s largest metropolitan area which is home to over 10 million people and includes cities such as Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Bonn.

There are several other smaller airports in the area but Düsseldorf has the greatest number of flight connections. A bit like Frankfurt, it is a major hub for business travellers in Europe but there are fewer long-haul destinations, although it does help ferry sun-seeking Germans to summer holidays in Europe or just beyond.

Number of Passengers in 2019: 25.5 million

  1. Berlin Tegel Airport

The German capital Berlin was only home to the country’s 4th busiest airport in 2019 with the historic Berlin Tegel Airport carrying just over 24 million passengers. It would prove to be Tegel’s swansong year and not just because of the pandemic. The brand new Berlin Brandenburg Airport was a welcome addition when it finally opened in 2020 and Tegel closed its doors for good soon afterwards.

It was a long overdue retirement to some extent for an ageing airport that had led a varied but important existence which included carrying passengers in and out of West Berlin during the Cold War era when the city was divided by the Berlin Wall and the western part, encircled by the GDR. 

It replaced Tempelhof as West Berlin’s main airport during that period and was the busiest Berlin airport following reunification, serving more passengers than Berlin Schönefeld which effectively became Terminal 5 of the new Brandenburg Airport in 2020. However, even that has since closed due to low-demand for travel as a result of the pandemic with the new airport enduring a difficult first year or so.

Number of Passengers in 2019: 24.2 million

  1. Hamburg Airport

Hamburg airport
Hamburg Airport via bethom33, CC BY-SA 2.0

Next we head north to Hamburg, the fifth busiest German airport in 2019 with around 17 million passengers. It mostly serves travel within Europe although there are a couple of long-haul routes to Dubai and Tehran.

The spacious but sensible two-terminal design has made it a reasonably big hit with travellers with gates easy to reach and easy access to the regular rail connections into the heart of the city making the overall experience smooth.

Hamburg is perhaps better known for its seaport than its airport but it is the biggest in Northern Germany and remains a key regional hub even if it has lost its transatlantic flights in recent years with no current services to North America.

Number of Passengers in 2019: 17.3 million

Germany’s Busiest Airports – Top 10 ranked by 2021 figures

Airport 2021 Total Passengers 2019 Total Passengers
Frankfurt 24.8 million 70.6 million
Munich 12.5 million 47.9 million
Berlin Brandenburg 9.9 million 0 (New Airport)
Düsseldorf 8.0 million 25.5 million
Hamburg 5.3 million 17.3 million
Cologne/Bonn 4.3 million 12.4 million
Stuttgart 3.6 million 12.7 million
Hanover 2.1 million 6.3 million
Dortmund 1.7 million 2.7 million
Nuremberg 1.1 million 4.1 million

Looking at the flight data for 2021, it’s clear that much-like 2020, it was anything but a normal year for air travel in Europe with every existing airport experiencing a severe decline on their passenger figures for 2019.

The exception was of course Berlin Brandenburg but it was far from the booming first year that the new airport’s designers would have imagined when construction began. Indeed both Tegel and Schönefeld served more passengers in 2019 than Brandenburg did in 2021 and it’s unclear whether the old Schönefeld section of the new airport will ever open to passengers again.

What didn’t change is Frankfurt’s status as the busiest German airport with nearly 25 million passengers served, roughly double that of Munich, the only other German airport to handle more than 10 million passengers in 2021.

Germany Airports Map

This post on the busiest airports in Germany was published in March 2022.

The Busiest Airports in Germany

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