“The Longer the runway, the better the take-off!”

When it comes to aviation, runways are the lifelines that connect the skies to the ground. These meticulously designed strips of pavement not only determine an aircraft’s takeoff and landing capabilities but also play a crucial role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of air travel.

In this post, we share the top 10 Longest runways at commercial airports around the globe.

Longest Runways at Commercial Airport

1. Shigatse Peace Airport Runway 09/27, China & Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport Runway 02/20, Russia – 5,000 meters (16,404 feet)

Sharing the crown are Shigatse Peace Airport in China and Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport in Russia, both boasting 5,000-meter runways. Shigatse Peace Airport, located at 3,782 meters altitude, serves Shigatse in the Tibet Autonomous Region and accommodates China Eastern Airlines, Tibet Airlines, and West Air. The airport defies the odds to serve both as a military and civilian airport.

Shigatse Peace Airport. Image: CSIS

Meanwhile, Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport, situated at a modest 77-meter elevation, is a hub for Volga-Dnepr Airlines, known for its distinctive fleet of Antonov An-124 and five IL-76TD-90VD (Stage IV).

Ulyanovsk Vostochny Airport. Image: Wikipedia

2. Embraer Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport, Brazil – 4,967 meters (16,295 feet), Runway 02/20

Brazil’s Embraer Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport secures its position as the second-longest runway on our list, spanning an impressive 4,967 meters. Situated at an elevation of 603 meters, the runway 02/20 serves as a platform for flight testing and assembly.

It is also the longest public-use runway in the Americas. It is wholly owned and operated by the Brazilian manufacturer, Embraer. 

Embraer Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport. Image: Airports Worldwide

3. Upington Airport, South Africa – 4,900 meters (16,076 feet), Runway 17/35

At 4,900 meters, Upington Airport has one of the longest runways at a commercial airport. This runway was meticulously designed to accommodate the substantial payload of Boeing 747 aircraft. Located at an elevation of 851 meters, Upington Airport has not only unlocked economic opportunities but also serves as a vital link in the region’s cargo transportation network.

Currently, Airlink is the only airline operating regularly scheduled passenger flights in and out of Upington Airport. Apart from it, multiple airlines also operate non-scheduled charter flights in and out of the airport as it serves as an international cargo hub.

Upington Airport. Image: SA Venues

4. Denver International Airport, United States – 4,877 meters (16,000 feet), Runway 16R/34L

With a runway measuring 4,877 meters and situated at an altitude of 1,656 meters, Denver International Airport in the U.S. is the fourth-longest runway at a commercial airport. It serves Colorado and the greater Front Range Urban Corridor.

Denver Airport has flights to over 215 destinations making it one of the handful of US airports to exceed 200 destinations.

Denver International Airport. Image: RedRipper24 via Flickr

5. Hamad International Airport, Qatar – 4,850 meters (15,912 feet), Runway 16L/34R

Situated in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula, Hamad International Airport boasts a 4,850-meter runway, located at an elevation of just four meters above sea level.

Located east of Qatar’s capital, Doha, the airport serves as the home of Qatar Airways.

Hamad International Airport. Image: Airport Business

6. Madrid-Torrejón Airport, Spain – 4,818 meters (15,807 feet), Runway 04/22

Situated fifteen miles northeast of Madrid, Madrid-Torrejón Airport serves both the Spanish Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Public Works.

It features a runway of 4,818 meters and the civil part is dedicated primarily to executive and private aviation. It also serves as the base of the European Union’s Satellite Centre.

Madrid-Torrejón Airport. Image: Carlos Delgado via Wikimedia Commons

7. Erbil International Airport, Iraq – 4,800 meters (15,748 feet), Runway 18/36

Located at an elevation of 415 meters, Iraq’s Erbil International Airport has the seventh-longest runway at 4,800 meters. It has been playing a pivotal role in facilitating connectivity to and from the region, fostering economic growth and cultural exchange.

Erbil International Airport. Image: EIA

8. Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport, Zimbabwe – 4,725 meters (15,500 feet), Runway 05/23

Zimbabwe’s Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport features a 4,725-meter runway. Serving as the base of Air Zimbabwe, it is the largest airport in the country.

Alongside Air Zimbabwe, multiple airlines including Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, and Qatar Airways, operate scheduled passenger flights in and out of Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport. Image: NewsDay Zimbabwe

9. Kinshasa N’djili Airport, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 4,700 meters (15,420 feet), Runway 06/24

Located at an elevation of 313 meters, N’djili Airport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has one of the longest runways at 4,700 meters.

Named after the nearby Ndjili River, it is the largest of the four international airports in the Democratic Republic of Congo and handles a wide range of domestic and international flights.

Kinshasa N’djili Airport. Image: Wikimapia

10. Zhukovsky International Airport Runway 12/30, Russia & Hwange National Park Airport Runway 08/26, Zimbabwe – 4,600 meters (15,100 feet)

At 4,600 meters, Zhukovsky International Airport in Russia and Hwange National Park Airport in Zimbabwe have the tenth longest runways at commercial airports.

Zhukovsky International Airport is located southeast of central Moscow, in the city of Zhukovsky and serves a handful of domestic, international and charter flights.

Zhukovsky International Airport. Image: Wikimedia Commons

However, scheduled services at Hwange National Park Airport are limited.

Feature Image: via Wikimapia