Women's Day
March 8, 2020

4.3% of airports named exclusively after women
95.4% of airports named exclusively after men
0.3% of airports jointly named after a man and woman
#EachForEqual    #fairports


Across the world, you’ll find airports named after some of the most famous and fabled figures in history. Think Pisa’s Galileo Galilei Airport, New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. And what do all of these airports have in common? They’re all named after men.

In fact, most eponymous airports are named after men. Out of the 352 airports we identified as having adopted eponyms, only 15 are named exclusively after women (4.3%). That’s an astonishingly low figure, revealing just how gender-biased this practice is globally. We think that should change.

As well as shining a spotlight on the inspiring women who have been honoured by airports, we’re marking International Women’s Day (IWD) this year by launching a campaign for even greater recognition – especially of those women who have paved the way in the field of aviation.

Airports named after women

In total, we’ve identified 16* women who have airports named after them – a varied group that transports us from the present day back to the 12th century, as well as across the globe from North America to Southeast Asia.

Name Known for Airport Location Country Regional / International
Alia al-Hussein Queen of Jordan Queen Alia International Airport Amman Jordan International
Amelia Earhart Aviator Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport Atchison US Regional
Beatrix of the Netherlands Queen of the Netherlands Queen Beatrix International Airport Oranjestad Aruba International
Fatmawati Soekarno First Lady Fatmawati Soekarno Airport Bengkulu, Sumatra Indonesia Regional
Hillary Clinton Politician Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport Little Rock, Arkansas US National
Indira Gandhi Prime Minister Indira Gandhi International Airport Delhi India International
Jacqueline Cochran Aviator Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport Thermal US Regional
Josefa Camejo Independence fighter Josefa Camejo International Airport Paraguaná Peninsula Venezuela International
Juana Azurduy de Padilla Military leader Juana Azurduy de Padilla International Airport Sucre Bolivia International
Juliana of the Netherlands Queen of the Netherlands Princess Juliana International Airport Sint Maarten Sint Maarten International
Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar Queen of the Kingdom of Malwa Devi Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport Indore India International
Maria Montez Actor María Montez International Airport Barahona Dominican Republic International
Mother Teresa Missionary Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza Tirana Albania International
Sabiha Gökçen Aviator Sabiha Gökçen International Airport Istanbul Turkey International
Sofía of Greece and Denmark Queen of Spain Tenerife South–Reina Sofía Airport Tenerife Spain International
Queen Tamar Queen of Georgia Queen Tamar Airport Mestia Georgia Regional

A little more about these women

Alia Al-Hussein
December 1948 – February 1977
Queen Alia International Airport, Jordan
In her short life, Alia Al-Hussein made efforts to modernise the Jordanian royal family, transforming what it meant to be Queen of the Arabian country. She was keenly interested in raising standards of living, improving access to education and promoting interest in the arts (she was thought to have been particularly fond of literature).
Amelia Earhart
July 1897 – July 1937
Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport, US
When she wasn’t busy being a champion of equal rights or working on her writing, Amelia Earhart could be found up in the air breaking and setting one new record after another. This included achieving a new women’s altitude record of 14,000 feet and becoming the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
Beatrix of the Netherlands
January 1938 – Present
Queen Beatrix International Airport, Aruba
Today known as Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard was Queen for 33 years, ruling the Netherlands from 1980 to 2013. The ascension of her son Willem-Alexander ended an impressive 123-year run during which the heads of the state were exclusively women.
Fatmawati Soekarno
February 1923 – May 1980
Fatmawati Soekarno Airport, Indonesia
Very little is known about Fatmawati Soekarno. Indonesia’s original First Lady, she was married to Sukarno when he became the southeast Asian country’s first president in 1945. Arguably, her greatest legacy is her children, including Megawati Sukarnoputri, who would go on to become Indonesia’s first female president in 2001.
Hillary Clinton
October 1947 – Present
Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport, US
One of the most famous politicians of her generation, Hillary Clinton has been at the forefront of US politics for many decades. Besides serving as a US Senator from 2001 to 2009, she spent four years as Secretary of State under President Obama and, in 2016, was nominated as the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.
Indira Gandhi
November 1917 – October 1984
Indira Gandhi International Airport, India
A hugely divisive figure in Indian politics – think ‘The Emergency’ of 1975–1977 – Indira Gandhi, whose family had been at the centre of Indian politics since before independence in 1947, made history when she was appointed Prime Minister in 1966. She was the first – and, to date, only – woman ever to hold this prestigious post.
Jacqueline Cochran
May 1906 – August 1980
Jacqueline Cochran Regional Airport, US
Becoming the first woman in the world to break the sound barrier in 1953 might seem like a career highlight but, for Jacqueline Cochran, it was just one of many professional highs. A true aviation pioneer, she was also director of the Women Airforce Service Pilots and president of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.
Josefa Camejo
May 1791 – July 1862
Josefa Camejo International Airport, Venezuela
Josefa Camejo is considered to be one of Venezuela’s most famous heroines, admired for her courageous efforts during the Venezuelan War of Independence (1810–1823). She is buried at the National Pantheon of Venezuela, the final resting place of some of Venezuela’s most revered sons and daughters.
Juana Azurduy de Padilla
July 1780 – May 1862
Juana Azurduy de Padilla International Airport, Bolivia
Juana Azurduy de Padilla was a freedom fighter who fought during the Bolivian War of Independence (1809–1825). Although she’s not a familiar name outside Bolivia, this is slowly beginning to change. A controversial statue of her was erected in Argentina in 2015, further raising her profile.
Juliana of the Netherlands
April 1909 – March 2004
Princess Juliana International Airport, Sint Maarten
Mother of the last woman to be Queen of the Netherlands (Beatrix), Juliana Louise Emma Marie Wilhelmina was herself Queen from 1948 to 1980. Prior to taking the throne, her mother, Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, was also monarch (1890–1948). Interesting fact: she has an asteroid named after her – 816 Juliana.
Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar
May 1725 – August 1795
Devi Ahilyabai Holkar International Airport, India
As with a number of other women whose names have been adopted by airports, few people outside India have heard of the legendary Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar. A member of the Holkar dynasty, her tenure as Queen of the Kingdom of Malwa is said to have been characterised by a style of rule that was both generous and effective.
Maria Montez
June 1912 – September 1951
María Montez International Airport, Dominican Republic
A star of the silver screen in the Forties, Maria Montez starred in adventure classics like Arabian Nights, White Savage, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and Cobra Woman. Originally from the Dominican Republic, she is sometimes referred to as the Queen of Technicolor.
Mother Teresa
August 1910 – September 1997
Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, Albania
Originally from Skopje in North Macedonia, Mother Teresa spent most of her life in her adopted home of India, looking after the county’s most impoverished, neglected and at-risk citizens. Generally praised the world over for her charitable work, she was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1979 and sainted in 2016.
Sabiha Gökçen
March 1913 – March 2001
Sabiha Gökçen International Airport, Turkey
One of the adopted children of Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Sabiha Gökçen became the world’s first female fighter pilot in 1937 – a feat she achieved aged 23, no less. She was also one of the first female aviators in Turkey, possibly the first (although Bedriye Tahir Gökmen is often credited with that accolade).
Sofía of Greece and Denmark
November 1938 – Present
Tenerife South–Reina Sofía Airport, Canary Islands
The daughter of Paul of Greece and Frederica of Hanover, Sofía was born into royalty. She became Queen of Spain in 1975 when her husband Juan Carlos I ascended the throne. One of her greatest legacies is the Queen Sofía Foundation, which, among other things, provides humanitarian aid all over the world.
Queen Tamar
1160 – 1213
Queen Tamar Airport, Georgia
Revered to this day – and still something of a national icon – Queen Tamar was the first woman to rule the Kingdom of Georgia. During her reign, she would see Georgia’s Golden Age reach its absolute peak – culturally, politically and militarily. Also known as Tamar the Great, she actually held the title ‘King of Georgia’.
*Hillary Clinton is the only woman on this list not to have an airport named exclusively after her. She shares the honour with her husband, Bill Clinton.

Note: While we have tried to be as authoritative as possible, we appreciate that this isn’t a complete list of eponymous airports worldwide – some airports might have been missed, for both men and women. That still doesn’t take away the key finding of our study – women are significantly underrepresented when it comes to airport eponyms. If you spot any we haven’t covered, do let us know. #fairports

What's in a name?

While the headline stats are striking enough – for instance, only 15 out of 352 eponymous airports are named exclusively after women – a deeper dive into the data revealed some additional insights. Here are five of them.

The US and India ‘lead the way’
At a country level, the US has the most airports named after women – three, if you include Little Rock’s Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport (one of eight airports that we found to be named after two people. The other seven are all named after two men). As with India, the US is home to two airports that are exclusively named after women.
Being Queen helps
As a woman, your chances of having an airport named after you are greatest if you’re a Queen – six out of the 16 women to have airports named after them come from royalty (38%). This is followed by aviation and politics, which each have three representatives. It’s a different story for male royals – only 28 out of the 344 men to have airports named after them are from royalty (politics, aviation and the military dominate).
Women are recognised in fewer fields
When it comes to airport eponyms, we identified seven fields – defined as a sphere of activity individuals are known for – that women are represented in. For men it’s 16. Of those seven fields, three dominate – royalty, aviation and politics. There are surprisingly no airports named after prominent women in fields like aerospace, science, sports or business.
A political career can be useful
It appears that enjoying a successful career in politics is one way to get an airport named after you, as we discovered that on every major continent, except Australasia, politicians came out on top. And, if you’re particularly renowned, like JFK, you might even get two (New York and Ashland).
Europe likes artists
After politics (25%), and ahead of aviation (15%), the arts is the second most popular field in Europe for airport naming conventions – 20% of eponymous airports on the continent, such as Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport, are named after painters, poets, musicians and the like. More generally, women in the arts are underrepresented. Only one out of the 16 women who have airports named after them falls into this category (Maria Montez).
How many men and women have airports named after them
Where in the world women have airports named after them
What individuals who have airports named after them in Europe are known for


The short of it is that more airports need to be named after women – less than 5% is simply not good enough. The challenge, however, is choosing on whom to bestow the honour, as the list of distinguished women –in fields ranging from sports to philosophy – is long. The same is certainly true of aviation and aerospace, two fields we’ve decided to focus our attention on for our IWD-inspired campaign, #fairports. Here are 10 women we believe deserve to have an airport named after them.

Amy Johnson
July 1903 – January 1941
Amy Johnson, one of the most important women in British aviation history, was a true trailblazer, setting numerous flying records throughout the Thirties. This included becoming the first woman to fly solo from the UK to Australia, and achieving a new speed record from London to Cape Town.
Bessie Coleman
January 1892 – April 1926
Determined to become a pilot, US-born Bessie Coleman journeyed as far as France to obtain an international pilot’s licence – and, in 1921, she became the first woman of African American and Native American descent to do just that. She would go on to become a daredevil show pilot. In 2014, Oakland International Airport named a stretch of its airport roadway in her honour.
Christina Hammock Koch
January 1979 – Present
Christina Hammock Koch landed back on Earth on February 6, 2020, having enjoyed an amazing 328 days in space – the longest time a woman has spent in space uninterrupted. During that record-breaking stretch, Christina also completed the first ever all-woman spacewalk – an accolade she shares with Jessica Meir.
Fiorenza de Bernardi
May 1928 – Present
A living legend in aviation, Fiorenza de Bernardi came to prominence in 1969 when she became the first woman in Italy to captain an airline. Throughout her long career she has campaigned for better female representation in aviation, founding what today is known as the Associazione Donne dell'Aria (the Italian Women’s Air Association).
Jean Batten
September 1909 – November 1982
A contemporary of Britain’s Amy Johnson, New Zealand’s Jean Batten was a prolific early female aviator, setting and breaking numerous records during the Thirties. This included becoming the first woman to fly solo from London to Argentina. A statue of her can be found outside Auckland International Airport.
Katherine Johnson
August 1918 – February 2020
A talented mathematician, Katherine Johnson was pivotal in helping NASA achieve remarkable firsts, including sending the first American into space and ensuring that Apollo 11 could safely complete its mission to land the first man on the moon. She was among a small number of African American women to work at the space agency during these decisive years.
Liu Yang
October 1978 – Present
A successful air force pilot who achieved the rank of major during her time in the army, Liu Yang became the first Chinese woman to venture into space in 2012 – aged only 33. Coincidentally, this was exactly 49 years to the day that Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.
Lorna Vivian deBlicquy
November 1931 – March 2009
Celebrated for breaking down barriers throughout her career, Lorna Vivian deBlicquy is considered to be one of Canada’s most famous and influential female aviators. A highly respected pilot, she would go on to become the country’s first ever female civil aviation inspector.
Maggie Gee
August 1923 – February 2013
During the Second World War, Maggie Gee served as a member of the now legendary Women Airforce Service Pilots, a pioneering organisation that contributed significantly to the US war effort. There is currently a live petition to get Oakland International Airport, which Maggie used to visit with her family as a kid, named after her.
Valentina Tereshkova
March 1937 – Present
In 1963, just two years after Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space, the Soviet Union’s Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman to fly in space (and, to this day, the only woman to have flown solo in space). She has since gone on to have a successful career in Russian politics.

Your chance to make a difference: Renaming Leeds Bradford Airport after Amy Johnson

A change is clearly needed. The gender gap needs to be narrowed and more women need to be recognised by airports throughout the world.

We’re feeling inspired, and we hope you are too – which is why we’re launching a new campaign to address this historic imbalance. For more information about this, and to show your support for #fairports head to our dedicated page below.

Amy Johnson Leeds Bradford Airport