Airport Tycoon 2 is a 3D management simulation in which the player runs an airport, and manages all the headaches that come along with that. It offers the same gameplay mechanics as most tycoon games: the player has a piece of land to his disposal and constructs all buildings and structures which are needed to maintain an airport, e.g. runways or terminals. Additionally every building has other customizable aspects like restrooms or luggage carts. The goal is of course to maximize the profit by identifying and reforming problem areas - this means a lot of time is spent in various statistics screens. If the player is successful he can get new contracts (which are negotiated by the player himself) which means more traffic but also new challenges. Catastrophes like tornadoes or earthquakes force the player to change his working structures to keep the airport running.
The game is played in real-time which can be slowed down or sped up. Besides the free playing mode there are scenarios in which the player needs to fulfill requirements to win it, e.g. a certain number of flights in a limited time frame. There are overall about 25 cities to choose from.