Airports are some of the largest commercial hubs in the world. They host hundreds of thousands of passengers every day and thousands of flights. There must be some massive governing body handling all of this traffic and communicating with other airports to ensure all of this travel goes off without a hitch. But is this governing body a private company?

In many cases, yes, the airport is owned and operated by a private company. This is true across the world, primarily in European nations. However, it’s not always the case as the United States requires that all commercial, international airports be held by the government. The rules vary across the world, but it’s safe to say that many commercial airports are, in fact, privately owned.

Across the Globe

In general, most commercial airports are privately owned across the world. There are many exceptions to this rule, but a majority of the international commercial airports are owned and operated without a governing body in charge. Across Europe, there are rules and regulations that must be followed by the private companies, as with any business.

Despite a majority of commercial airports across the globe being privately owned by companies and individuals, there are sets of international rules that each one adheres to. Air travel is pretty heavily regulated by governments and international bodies. This makes it important that these private companies operate within the rules and guidelines established for air travel and airports.

United States Airports

The story is a little bit different in the United States. While most of the world’s commercial airports are owned and operated by private companies, the United States controls its commercial travel hubs. All but one commercial airport in the United States is owned by the government which makes it easier to implement general rules allowing for easier communication and cohesion.

This doesn’t mean that the government has to oversee and operate every single airport within the United States – that would be nearly impossible. Though the government owns most of the airports, they outsource work to private companies who then can claim a wing of the airport as their own. In a sense, an airport in the United States is a piece of real estate that private companies can rent and operate in.

Small Versus Commercial

The above rules all apply to commercial airports across the world. In many cases, they’re owned and operated by private companies. In the United States, commercial airports are owned by the government and operated by private companies. But what about the small, regional airports dotting the globe? Who owns and operates those?

It all depends on the airport, unfortunately. Some small airports are owned by a private organization or individual, but others are sponsored and paid for by local governments. Some small towns will purchase and pay for a local airport or airfield, allowing residents to enjoy the air. These small airports will never likely receive traffic other than local pilots and joyriders. This makes room for these small airports to be easier to operate and own privately.