Which is More Efficient? (Airport Layouts)

Every time I see airports around the world, I notice that many of them have a lot of different layouts (obviously) but which is more efficient?

Here are the options:

  • There are airports that have one long central terminal split into concourses; usually in between two or more runways (Hong Kong and Miami are good examples)
  • There are airports which have the terminals outside of all the runways. (Toronto-Pearson, and Boston-Logan are good examples)
  • There are airports which have all terminals separated into concourses stretched along the airfield (Atlanta, Denver, and London’s Terminal 5 are good examples)

Are one of these options the most efficient for airports or is it just up to the airport designers? I believe option 1 seems to be the most efficient because it’s used in some of the world’s busiest airports

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Personally I think option 1 is the most efficient for a few reasons


  • The ability to efficiently control the traffic flow at the airport based on parking assignments
  • Happier passengers: no long taxi periods or long takeoff lines
  • Easier to manage overall
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No matter what you have to say Berlin Tegel is the worlds most efficient international airport.

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Can you explain why it’s the most efficient?

Because it there is no concourse you check in then to the left of the check in desk is the security and directly after is the gate where boarding is in progress. No duty free.
Being an efficient airport isnt about the type of design of the concourse its the layout of the terminal.

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Yes, it may seem efficient, but it’s a very small airport (smaller than other major international airports like LAX). Obviously, smaller airports may seem the most efficient becasue they’re not busy with millions of people going in and out. But I want to know about large international airports being efficient

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I always think that LHR is an efficient set up with the terminals in the middle of the airfield (well except T4) and then two parallel runway, one to be used for take off and one for landings!

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Don’t forget JFK, where there are 7 terminals surrounded by 4 runways on 3 sides.

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But, with my experience the taxiing at JFK is a long process. I’ve been stuck on the ground there for over one hour!

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JFK often has long lines. I live near there and fly out of there all the time.

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Atlanta is a good design - terminal concourses in the middle with pass through taxi ways, loads of runways too!

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The efficiency depends on the size of the airport by passenger output. Airports like Londonderry city work well for the amount of traffic it receives, but when it’s controlled in IF its a nightmare due to traffic.

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thats not true millions of passengers use tegel :p

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I’m just talking about the size of the airport, it’s not large compared to other airports like ATL, LAX, or LHR

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you asked what is most efficient not what is largest :p

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Larger airports that are efficient… Airports that get lots of traffic

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20 million isnt enough?

No one design is perfect, it depends on what you want. New York airports are hamstrung by airspace restrictions. In terms of efficency, LHR is quite good, they have a great system where each part of the departure and arrivals are down to a precise science to maximize utilization on the two runways. You can have whatever layout you want, but if you have incompetent people/bureaucrats planning traffic coming in and out (COUGHChinaCOUGH) you’ll be inefficient no matter what.

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