Which Airlines Have Built Their Own Airports?

Ever since commercial flying started, airlines have been investing in airports where they operate and are sometimes the sole owner. With this in mind, we thought we would have a look at which airlines today operate from airports that they own.

angkok Airways ATR 42-600 on final at Phuket airport
Bangkok Airways owns Koh Samui Airport. Photo: Getty Images

In the early days, when planes needed to stop and refuel, Airlines like Pan American operated one of the world’s largest airports out of Dinner Key, Miami. While technically a seaport for the airline’s flying boats, Dinner Key was a vital link between North and South America.
The United States Navy took over the facility in 1943, and by the time World War Two was over, seaplanes were obsolete.

AA helped to build LaGuardia Airport

Texas-based American Airlines was looking to expand its “Flagship” DC-3 service around the country. With New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia’s co-operation, American Airlines built an airport in New York City.

American Airlines helped build LaGuardia. Photo: Michael Barera via Wikimedia

Coincidentally LGA became the first facility to have an airline lounge that American Airlines called the “Admirals Club.” In 1950, American Airlines was looking to operate flights south of the border and started a subsidiary called “American Airlines de Mexico S.A.” To accommodate the new airline, American Airlines helped build several airports in Mexico.

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Bangkok Airways owns Koh Samui Airport

More recently, Thailand’s Bangkok Airways petitioned the Thai government to build an airport on the resort island of Koh Samui. Seeing the potential of being able to fly international tourists direct from the country’s capital, Bangkok Airways purchased a coconut plantation and cleared the land for an airport.

With environmental concerns being a big issue Bangkok Airways designed the airport and terminal to blend in with the tropical surroundings. Bangkok Airways also owns Sukhothai Airport and Trat Airport.

Under the Stobart Group flag, you could say that Stobart Air owns Southend Airport and Carlise Lake District Airport in the United Kingdom. Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Stobart Air is a regional airline that operates on behalf of their owners Aer Lingus Regional, BA CityFlyer, and KLM Cityhopper.

Airline owned terminals

One of the trends that seem to be coming back is airlines owning their own terminals, as used to be the case with TWA and Pan American at New York John F. Kennedy Airport. Kuwait’s Jazeera Airways launched its own dedicated terminal at Kuwait International Airport in May 2018.

Called “Terminal 5”, it is connected to the main terminal but was built to handle all arriving and departing Jazeera Airways flights. Terminal 5 also has its own customs clearance facilities, which means Jazeera Airways passengers can do everything conveniently in one building.

Jazeera Airways A320neo 2
Jazeera has exclusive use of Terminal 5.Photo: Jazeera Airways

Some airlines exclusively share terminals with partner airlines, as is the case with the IAG Group carriers British Airways and Iberia. Both the British and Spanish national flag carriers arrive and depart from Terminal 5 at London Heathrow. The same thing applies to Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suárez Airport, where they exclusively share Terminal 4.

Regarding government-owned airlines like Ethiopian Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways, you might say they own the airports too, as they are all government-owned.

There has to be plenty of small airlines around the world that have their own airports. If you can think of any, please let us know in the comments.