An airport is a designated location for aircraft to take off and land, with facilities, services, and infrastructure as required. A military airport is known as an airbase.
Airports vary in size, with those smaller or less-developed areas dedicated to aircraft operations are sometimes called airfields or airstrips. These smaller airports might include a single dirt or grass runway of less than 2000m, while larger airports for international flights have paved runways 3000m or larger. Size aside, any airport can have paved runways, with many airports in North America having paved runways shorter than 1000m.
At airports served by commercial flights, the buildings where passengers purchase tickets, clear security, and check or claim luggage are typically called terminals. The waiting areas which provide access to the airplanes are typically called concourses, although these terms are often interchangeable.
Both large and small airports can be towered or uncontrolled, depending on funds and traffic. Due to their high capacity and busy airspace, most international airports have air traffic control located on site.
International airports generally have a complex of buildings where passengers can embark on airliners, and where cargo can be stored and loaded. Customs facilities for international travel often distinguish an international airport, and require a more conspicuous level of physical security.
The largest international airports are often located next to freeways or are served by their own freeways. Often, traffic is fed into two access roads, designed as loops, one sitting on top of the other. One level is for departing passengers and the other is for arrivals. Many airports also have light rail lines or other mass transit systems directly connected to the main terminals.
Aircraft maintenance, pilot services, aircraft rental, and hangar rental is most often performed by a fixed base operator, e.g. British Airways at Heathrow.
Airport designation and naming
Airports are uniquely represented by their IATA airport code and ICAO airport code. In the U.S. and other countries, they are often named after a prominent local celebrity, commonly a politician.
The traffic generated by airports both in the air and on the surface can be a major source of aviation noise and air pollution which may interrupt nearby residents' sleep or, in extreme cases, be harmful to their health . The construction of new airports, or addition of runways to existing airports, is often resisted by local residents because of the effect on the countryside, historical sites, local flora and fauna. As well, due to the risk of collision between birds and airplanes, large airports undertake population control programs where they frighten or shoot birds to ensure the safety of air travellers.