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.
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|
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 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.
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