Whether you're flying into New York
or London’s LHR
on business, or arriving at the new Corvera Airport
with the family for your summer break, it’s unlikely that you’d have given the airport itself much thought. Most travellers see the airport as a means to an end, often worst part of a journey, whether it’s feeling ripped off for airport drop off charges
, or airport luggage trolley fees
, queuing at checking / security on the way out, or the dreaded immigration and passport control at the destination airport, airports are rarely a part of any journey that you look forward to. But consider yourself lucky if it’s just a run of the mill airport you're flying into as some airports in the world hold some surprises and secrets that might make you think twice about flying there at all! We’ve put together a list of the world’s weirdest airports;
SAV – Savannah / Hilton Head International Airport, USA
Voted among the top 10 domestic airports in the USA in 2018, it handled over 2.4 million domestic passengers in 2017, 40% of whom flew with Delta Airlines. Did they know however that set within the runway are 2 gravestones? That’s right, memorial headstones of Catherine and Richard Dotson are still to this day set within the runway. The airport site is a former cemetery and when the military took ownership of the land to facilitate the new airport in the build up to WWII, all the bodies were relocated to another cemetery, however out of respect and family wishes, the headstone of the former proprietors remain set in the runway until this day.
KIX – Kansai Airport, Japan
If you’re one of the 28 million passengers that use Japan’s third busiest airport and flying in for the first time, don’t be alarmed when you look out of the windw and see nothing but the ocean when the pilot askes the crew to prepare the cabin for landing. Unless your window is facing south-west, all you see is the deep blue sea! Land is scarce in Japan
and that’s why Kansai Airport
is built on its very own 4 square mile island. Take the Kanku line direct from the terminal on the island to the Osaka
mainland some 3km away.
DMK – Don Mueang International Airport, Thailand
We can’t decide whether this should be on the list of weirdest golf courses or weirdest airports, since we don’t (yet) have a weirdest golf courses blog, it’ll reside on the latter. What has this airport got to do with golf you ask? Well, the Kantarat Golf Course sits between the airports 2 runways... FORE!
GIB – Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar
You’d be forgiven for thinking you were seeing things whilst waiting at the traffic lights on Winston Churchill Avenue, the busiest road in Gibraltar
, but fear not your eyes have not deceived you. That really was a British Airways passenger jet passing in the opposite direction. That’s because, Gibraltar Airport
is the only commercial airport in the world to have a highway passing across its runway. In order to accommodate the largest planes, the airport has extended its runway which crossed a busy road. Give a little thought for air traffic control here, not only managing the near 4,000 aircraft movements per year, but also the road traffic. The road is closed for 10 minutes for each aircraft movement at the airport.
GIS – Gisborne Airport, New Zealand
If you thought a road dissecting the runway was odd, then how about a rail crossing? That’s what air traffic control have to deal with at Gisborne Airport on New Zealand’s north island. Whilst only a minor airport, most visitors choosing Auckland
, for those arrivals that do land here, never mind ‘mind the gap’, you want to trust your pilot for find the gap between trains!
FNC – Madeira Airport, Portugal
Not only is the airport named after the footballer, Christiano Ronaldo (it’s not the first, Belfast’s airport
was named after famous footballer George Best back in 2006), it also has a rather extraordinary runway. The small island of Madeira
was comfortably served by a 1500m long runway, more than adequate to serve the small and medium airliners that brought holiday makers in their droves. The airport was a victim of its own success however, as more and more visitors put Madeira top of their holiday wish list, the runway simply wasn’t long enough to cater for larger planes like the 747. Not a problem for most airports, however simply extending the runway at Madeira wasn’t so simple as it was already located on a rocky outcrop. The only solution was to construct a bridge structure to support the extended runway. Now at nearly 3km long, 40% of the runway is supported by over 200 columns.
SXM - Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Maarten
A list of weird airports just wouldn’t be complete with mentioning Princess Juliana International Airport in Saint Maarten, you’ve no doubt seen the images before. Maho beach is probably the only spot on the planet where you could be woken from your slumber on a sunbed or have your martini well and truly shaken by a jumbo jet passing almost within reach. It’s become quite a tourist attraction in itself to see planes landing within feet of the beach itself, indeed the thrust from the engines has been known to cause numerous injuries to plane spotters keen to get as close as possible to the action.
BRR – Barra Airport, Scotland
The smallest airport on our list by some margin, serving just 14 thousand passengers per year, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. How about an airport with no runway? That’s right, if you’re planning a trip to the Island of Barra in Scotland
’s Outer Hebrides and expecting to see a runway on your final approach, think again. The beach will do nicely thanks, all flights in and out of Barra use the flat sandy beach as it’s runway.
DMM - King Fahd International Airport, Saudi Arabia
Nothing obviously weird about Dammam’s King Fahd International Airport
from the outset, however it’s the only airport in the world to have a full scale mosque, capable of accommodating over 1,000 worshippers within its facility. Not only that, it is also the only known airport to have an independent terminal solely for the use of the Saudi Royal Family. Where many airports make do with designated areas for royalty and dignitaries, DMM hosts an entire terminal. This indulgence made all the easier as there is little pressure on land here, King Fahd International Airport is the largest airport in the world by land mass, covering over 300 square miles.
NIC – Nicosia International Airport, Cyprus
The weird thing about Nicosia Airport in the capital city of Cyprus
is that it’s not actually open. The only capital city in Europe not to have an airport, it closed in 1977, 3 years after the Turkish occupation of the northern half of the island. The airport sits in the UN-controlled buffer zone between the 2 sides and has fallen into disrepair. Spy shots offer a glimpse into how Cyprus’ primary airport once looked back in the 70’s and you can even still see an old airliner parked up on the runway. SO if you're flying to Cyprus for a summer holiday you'll need to use either Larnaca
or Paphos Airport
in the south of the island, or Ercan Airport
in northern Cyprus
CDT - Castellón–Costa Azahar Airport, Spain
There’s nothing particularly odd about the airport itself, rather the situation that surrounds it. Castellon Airport
opened in 2011, however until 2015, not a single airline operated a regular route here. The region was (and still is) primarily served by Valencia airport
, however Spanish authorities considered enough demand to invest in a new airport. Unfortunately the 2008 global financial crisis led to demand drying up sufficiently that no airlines operated routes here. Since 2015, Ryanair is the only airline operating routes to and from this rather strange airport, marooned in the Costa Azahar.
RMU – Región de Murcia International Airport, Spain
Not dissimilar to Castellon, Corvera airport
construction began in 2008 just as the financial crisis hit. It was too late to abort and hope remained high that the new Corvera Airport would take over from Murcia’s San-Javier adding significant capacity for the region. Political and legal challenges ensued from 2013 when the airport was complete right through until January 2019 when the airport finally took over from Murcia
MJV. Just what do you do with a brand new, empty airport for 6 years?
THF – Berlin Tempelhof Airport, Germany
The first airport to serve Berlin
, it first opened in 1923 and was joined by Berlin Tegel
later with a third (Brandenburg
) due to open in 2019. Templehof closed its doors to commercial flights in 2008 despite sizeable protests and even a (albeit unsuccessful due to low turnout) referendum on the decision. The airport site now operates under the name ‘Templehof Feld’ which translates to ‘field’ and is used for numerous recreational activities including raves.
CVF – Courchevel Airport, France
The highest airport in Europe (by elevation), Courchevel airport sits over 2km above sea level in the French ski resort. Its runway, whilst only 537 metres long is too short for large commercial airlines and pilots intending to land here require a special permit. Even smaller planes will find the landing challenging and the runway is actually set at an 18.5% incline to aid incoming planes stopping before they hit the snow. In the opposite direction it has a distinct ‘kick’ to help you ‘off the edge’ just in case you run out of tarmac! It was also the airport used in James Bond’s Goldeneye blockbuster movie!
World’s Most Beautiful Airport?
Whilst most airports are rather plain and functional affairs, our list here just shows that there are also some very weird and wonderful airports out there that you may be flying into but have no idea what lies beneath. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, but after researching hundreds of the worlds airports to find the weirdest, we stumbled over India’s 100th inaugurated airport and was it ever worth finding. We think this airport takes the crown of the most beautiful airport in the world. Pakyong Airport takes the crown, not for its engineering wonder, being sculpted into the mountain side, nor the modern design of its terminal, we think it’s the most beautiful airport in the world thanks to the view the pilot must get on take-off / landing over the mountain range that the seemingly infinity runway bleeds into.