An airport is, as the name implies, a location where aircraft, particularly fixed-wing aircraft, take off and land. First included in Grand Theft Auto III, airports have appeared in all Grand Theft Auto games since.
First included in the Grand Theft Auto III rendition of Liberty City, airports are a nigh-mandatory facet of large cities, primarily distinguished by their massive land area, primarily tarmaced areas for parked airplanes and helicopters (static or interactive), and runways, with smaller areas occupied by airport terminals, hangars and car parks. With the exception of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto Advance, planes may also be seen taking off and landing at the main runways. In addition to aircraft, many airport tarmacs are abundant with ramps and mobile staircases, making the area ideal for stunting.
In nearly all cases, only the exterior of airports are accessible to the player; the only exception being Escobar International Airport in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, which features a fairly detailed and explorable terminal building. However, the player will be stripped of their weapons once they pass through the metal detectors at the main entrance. They can retrieve their weapons once they exit the terminal.
In Grand Theft Auto V, a small secondary terminal at the very south edge of the airport is enterable, a staircase leads the player up to a door that looks 'sealed', as if it is not enterable, however it will open if the player walks into it. Inside, there is a small interior with vending machines, and usually two pedestrians sitting on a bench. All other doors, 'leading' to aircraft gates, do not open.
There are secondary airfields in GTA San Andreas and Grand Theft Auto V, such as Verdant Meadows and the Sandy Shores Airfield. These can be entered freely and aircraft can be found at these locations, as they are both privately-owned airfields (owned by Carl Johnson and Trevor Philips respectively).
Early in its existence in GTA III and GTA Vice City, the airport area was often criticized by players and reviewers. While some people considered the large open runways and ramps spread around the airport a good place for driving and performing stunts, they were often considered "dead space" that take up too much of the city's total landmass due to the lack of activity within their area, especially in the tarmacs and runways.
To rectify the problem, airports changed considerably in GTA San Andreas, with a slight reduction on their size, more available controllable vehicles within the airport area, and the emphasis of airports being the safest locations to land aircraft, especially large planes (i.e. the AT-400 and Andromada). Road traffic (originally consisting of Baggage Handlers) was also introduced in GTA Vice City and developed later on in San Andreas and Vice City Stories to provide some semblance of activity.
Grand Theft Auto IV's rendition of its airport is particularly distinctive from its ancestors - On one hand, it is much more detailed, featuring multiple airport vehicles and staff roaming around it, and on the other hand because venturing onto the tarmac area will give the player a four-star wanted level, which is reminiscent of most airports, which are off-limits to the public. This is not apparent in the game's multiplayer or Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars, which shares the same city design, though.
Grand Theft Auto V's rendition of Los Santos International Airport is possibly the most realistic one yet, with multiple commercial aircraft (including pilotable jets) belonging to multiple different airliners, airplanes taking off, landing and taxing and three large runways. Similar to IV, entering the airport will give the player a three star wanted level. However, Michael and Franklin can enter the airport if they purchase an aircraft hangar (Trevor cannot purchase a hangar at the airport because he already owns two private airfields).
A feature exclusive to GTA San Andreas is the ability to purchase tickets at any of the three airports for commercial flights to other cities in San Andreas.
Plane tickets, which cost $500 each, can be bought at specific entrances of an airport. By confirming a purchase, the player will be shown a cutscene of an AT-400 taking off from the departing airport and flying to the chosen airport, before the player spawns outside the destination's airport; players can skip the cutscene at any time.
List of airports
- GTA III, GTA Advance and GTA Liberty City Stories
- GTA Vice City and GTA Vice City Stories
- GTA San Andreas
- Los Santos International Airport, Los Santos, San Andreas.
- Easter Bay International Airport, San Fierro, San Andreas.
- Las Venturas Airport, Las Venturas, San Andreas.
- GTA IV and GTA Chinatown Wars
- Grand Theft Auto V
- GTA San Andreas
- Grand Theft Auto V
- Sandy Shores Airfield, Sandy Shores, Blaine County, San Andreas.
- McKenzie Field, Grapeseed, Blaine County, San Andreas.
- Fort Zancudo, Mount Josiah, Blaine County, San Andreas. (Not public, if entered you will get 4 stars.)
- Although Carl is supposed to be a passenger in a commercial flight in GTA San Andreas, the player can clearly see him at the cockpit of the plane.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, if playing the mission "Bury The Hatchet" as Michael, you have to get to Los Santos International Airport and board a FlyUS Twinjet to North Yankton. This making Michael the only protagonist in the game who can purchase a flight ticket, though the flight is not shown and the scene skips once the plane takes off.