Travel Tips

Most Dangerous Airports in the World

The fear of moving through the air is not surprising. Most of the passengers, who try to combat it by doing research and studying air travel statistics, know that most accidents occur during takeoff and landing at Princess Juliana Airport, St. Martin’s Island. However, there are airports where not only the most cold-blooded passengers are afraid to land and take off, but also highly professional pilots. Let’s look at that list of most dangerous airports in the in the World.

World’s Most Challenging Airports
Commercial airplanes on apron at dusk with vibrant sunset sky at a busy airport.
Sunset hues grace the tarmac, planes ready for the night’s voyages.

Princess Juliana Among World’s Most Dangerous Airports

A blue KLM airplane flying low over a crowded beach with clear turquoise waters.
Plane sweeps over sunbathers at Saint Martin.

This airport was built to serve Saint Maarten in Saint Martin island. In the Eastern Caribbean region, this airport is the 2nd busiest airport. Princess Juliana is the main airport of the Caribbean Islands. When landing, the planes fly directly over the heads (at an altitude of 10-20 meters) of vacationers on Maho Beach, since the strip is located close to it. During takeoff, the pilot is forced to make a U-turn in order not to crash into a rock, which ends the strip which makes it one of the most dangerous airport in the World. Fortunately, there is no report about any accident happened in this dangerous airport yet.

Challenges of Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport

A Virgin Atlantic airplane approaching a short runway next to a steep cliff over the ocean

The airport’s runway is the shortest in the world. Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport’s runway length is less than 400 meters. Landing here is not for the faint of heart: the pilot must direct the ship directly to the rock, at the last moment before landing. Make a sharp turn to the right to find himself on a hill washed by the ocean on three sides. Three types of aircraft are allowed to land at the airport, and jet aircraft are not among them. Many people have the same opinion, that this airport is very dangerous even though there is no major accidents have ever taken place at this airport.

Gustaf III Airport’s Dangerous Runway

A large plane ascends steeply beside lush hills at Gustaf III Airport.
Plane makes a dramatic ascent from Gustaf III’s short runway.

The Gustaf III Airport located on an island in the Caribbean Sea, is another most dangerous airport as it has a runway with a length of only 650 meters. It is also very narrow, so every time the plane lands in the immediate vicinity of the slopes, it risks falling into the ocean. Gustaff III Airport is situated in Saint Barthelemy island. The airstrip is very close to the beach. If the pilot is not experienced enough, the plane might slip and drop down into the water.

Congonhas Airport

A row of planes at Congonhas Airport with the cityscape in the background.
Planes line up at Congonhas against São Paulo’s skyline.

Airport Congonhas located a few kilometers from the center of São Paulo, the airport is a gift for passengers, but not for pilots who have to maneuver between high-rise buildings. There are also problems with covering the runway. It often turns out to be slippery due to rains. So, in 2007, for this reason, a plane crashed during landing, as a result of the crash, 187 passengers died in the cabin, 12 on the ground.

Beachfront Aviation: The Uniqueness of Barra Airport, Scotland

A turboprop plane stands on the sandy beach runway of Barra Airport.
Plane parked on Barra’s sandy airstrip, a rare beach runway.

Barra Airport is situated in Barra Island, on Traigh Mhor Beach, Scotland. The operation of the airport located on the beach is periodically interrupted in a natural way. During tides that wash out the runway on the sand. It is also impossible to land here (almost flooding) at night. That why the airport is used only in the morning or afternoon. It’s very rare that planes land on this airport at night.

Tenzing Hillary Airport: Gateway to Everest and a Top Dangerous Airport

Small plane poised on the steep runway of Tenzing-Hillary Airport, with Himalayan backdrop.
Aircraft ready on Tenzing-Hillary’s challenging mountain runway.

The original name of this airport is Lukla Airport. To honor the two first climbers that made it to step their feet on the Mount Everest summit, Sherpa Tenzing and Edmund Hillary. The name of the airport was changed was renamed in 2008. In honor of the first conquerors of Mount Everest: Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary. The airport, where the pilot has no right to make mistakes, as it’s one of the most dangerous airport in the world.

The vessel maneuvers for a prolonged time among the rocks, and then the crew must steer it sharply downward to avoid a collision with a rock, ending with a short 537-meter runway. By the way, the strip begins immediately after the cliff. This airport is dangerous because of the location. Lukla Airport is located at an incline. Takeoffs and landings are performed at the airport exclusively according to the rules of visual flights, without the use of modern navigation systems. A number of major accidents have happened at this airport

The Rigorous Challenge of Landing at Paro Airport

Commercial plane on runway at Paro Airport beside Bhutanese-style building.
With traditional architecture in view Paro, Bhutan,

Paro Airport is located in the area of Himalayan mountains in Bhutan. The airport is considered one of the most difficult to land at. To make it, pilots have to make turns between mountains, which is possible only during daylight hours. No planes are allowed to land at night. There are only few pilots that have fulfilled the requirements to land their planes here.

Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo Airport

Entrance of Madeira Airport with vibrant taxis awaiting arrivals.
Modern Madeira Airport

Madeira’s main airport was once even scarier than it is now. Madeira Airport is dangerous because of its short runway (1600m). The country’s deadliest airline tragedy happened at this airport in 1977. However, it was reconstructed after the 1977 disaster that claimed the lives of 131 passengers. Today, two runways located on the cliff have a length of 1.8 kilometers. The terminal was renamed and a bust of Ronaldo was unveiled on March 29, 2017.

However, a significant part of the canvas is an overpass supported by 180 pillars with a diameter of 3 meters and a height of up to 50 meters. Due to the mountains and the sea, the airport found itself in a zone of increased turbulence.

The Chilling Challenge: Landing on Antarctica’s Ice Runway

Plane parked on the vast white expanse of Antarctica's Ice Runway.
Ice Runway of Antarctica, a chilling stop for intrepid flyers.

This is not a really airport, but only runway that serves the Antartica’s McMurdo Station. The runway on Ross Island is built here annually, the airport has been operating since December.

Why is it dangerous? Simple. Because of the icy runway.

The main difficulty is in the weather conditions. In order for landing to be possible, the ice must withstand the aircraft. Therefore, pilots and controllers carefully monitor the air temperature and the melting of ice and snow. The permissible immersion of the vessel in the ice during landing is approximately 25 centimeters.

Arctic Landing: The Perils of Svalbard Airport

Remote Svalbard Airport runway fringed by snow-capped mountains.
Polar landscapes at Svalbard Airport.

Located in Longyear, Norway, Svalbard Airport is very dangerous because of the ice structure. There have been several accidents happened at this airport, including the 1996 tragedy that killed 141 people.

Matekane Air Strip, Lesotho

Bare Matekane Airstrip perched on a cliff in the heart of Lesotho.

The 400-meter-long strip ends with a 600-meter-high cliff. A rare aircraft manages to accelerate to climb without reaching the end of the runway. According to the idea of the airport designers, an aircraft vessel must make a free fall to gain the desired flight altitude.

Gibraltar International Airport

The airport belongs to the United Kingdom. Pilots landing here need to know the brakes well so as not to drown the plane in the strait that ends the runway. In addition, you need to monitor the movement of cars following the road crossing the lane.

Wellington, New Zealand

The extremely busy airport has only one runway, and even that is relatively short – just over 1.8 kilometers. This circumstance, as well as the need to maneuver among the hills, make it impossible for large aircraft to land. As for small ships, their pilots’ lives are overshadowed by incredibly strong air currents.

Skiathos International Airport Alexandros Papadiamantis

Landing at Skiathos Airport is far from ideal and is capable of providing thrills even to the most cold-blooded pilots. The relatively short (1.6 kilometers) and narrow runway ends in the ocean. There are vacationers on the coast. Therefore, pilots need the will and the ability to put a lot of pressure on the brake. Taking off tickles the nerves no less.

Narsarsuaq International Airport

The beautiful scenery outside the window does not give pilots a reason to relax. The area is famous for increased turbulence, which is why only well-trained pilots who know the area are allowed to fly here.

Toncontin International Airport, Honduras

Landing of large aircraft has been prohibited here since 2008. The reason for the veto was an accident, as a result of which the plane skidded off the runway and crashed into the embankment, crushing several cars. 65 people were injured and 5 died.

Courchevel Airport, French Alps

Only certified pilots have the right to land an aircraft on a 525-meter runway located among the mountains with an 18.5% slope.