Emissions are determined in the vicinity of airports and used to demonstrate that aircraft movements in the airport, as measured by landings and takeoffs, are not sufficient to evaluate the cumulative emission formation for an airport. In the investigation, eight busy airports are selected and three databases considered to obtain values of significant emissions, that is, hydrocarbons (HCs), CO, NO(x), CO(2) and H(2)O. Findings for airports are compared. The results indicate that, despite the fact that aircraft movements for the Atlanta airport are the highest of those considered and almost double those for the London airport, the latter has greater emissions of HCs and NO(x). Although the Atlanta airport exhibits greater emissions of CO and CO(2) than the London airport, the difference is minor but opposite to the expected values based on numbers of landings and takeoffs. Copyright (C) 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.