The Eight Most Dangerous Airports in the World

By Todd Neikirk
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The Eight Most Dangerous Airports in the World

Todd Neikirk
 
Photo Credit: Fabrizio Gandolfo / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Fabrizio Gandolfo / SOPA Images / LightRocket / Getty Images
 
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Most major airports are tucked away far from the main thoroughfares of cities, meaning tourists often have to travel a bit to get to them. However, not all are created equal, and some airports aren’t built to perfect (or preferred) specifications. Due to the precise nature of flying, getting to them can be rather tricky.

Below are some of the most dangerous airports in the world.

Paro International Airport – Bhutan

People standing on the tarmac at Paro International Airport
Paro International Airport is surrounded by the Himalayas. (Photo Credit: LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA / AFP / Getty Images)

Paro is the only international airport in Bhutan, and it’s surrounded by the Himalayas. Due to the danger presented by the mountain range, arrivals and departures can only occur during daylight hours.

As well, not just any pilot can fly into Paro. Since there is a fair amount of technical skill involved in avoiding the mountains and nearby homes, aviators have to be significantly experienced.

Princess Juliana International Airport – Saint Martin

Airplane flying directly over a beach crowded with people
Airplanes fly directly over the beach to access Saint Martin’s Princess Juliana International Airport. (Photo Credit: LUPOO / ullstein bild / Getty Images)

The island nation of Saint Martin is a traveler’s paradise with its beautiful setting and tropical climate. However, the island is so tiny that there wasn’t many places to build an airport, meaning one was built right next to a popular beach.

To get to the runway, planes must fly directly over the beach, which can kick up sand on beachgoers. Thankfully, the majority of them don’t seem to care. In fact, it’s become a popular pastime to flock to the beach every day to grab photos of the takeoffs and landings.

São Paulo-Congonhas Airport – São Paulo, Brazil

Man standing outside of the memorial dedicated to the victims of the TAM Airlines Flight 3054
A memorial stands at São Paulo-Congonhas Airport for the 199 people who died in the 2007 crash of TAM Airlines Flight 3054. (Photo Credit: MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL / AFP / Getty Images)

São Paulo-Congonhas Airport in São Paulo, Brazil is located near many city buildings. As well, pilots have to be extra careful when landing, due to slippery ground conditions, and there’s a danger of planes overshooting the runway. Such an incident happened in 2007, when an aircraft crashed after flying past the runway, killing all 187 people onboard, as well as 12 on the ground.

Aspen/Pitkin County Airport – Aspen, Colorado

Airplanes parked at Aspen/Pitkin County Airport
Crashes regularly happen at the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport, due to icy conditions and swirling winds. (Photo Credit: Nik Wheeler / CORBIS / Getty Images)

Aspen, Colorado has long been a playground for the rich and famous, with its ski slopes and luxurious lifestyle.

Many of the things that make Aspen so desirable also make the city’s airport dangerous. In addition to the regular appearance of ice and snow, conditions also feature swirling winds and mountains on either side. Crashes regularly happen at the airport, and pilots know that they have to be incredibly focused while landing on the runway.

Courchevel Airport – Courchevel, France

Aerial view of Courchevel Airport
The runway at Courchevel Airport is built on an upward slope. (Photo Credit: Hugues Mitton / hugovoyages / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.5)

Courchevel Airport, in France, serves a very specific purpose; it was built for people traveling to the area to ski. The airport’s runway is located on an upward slope and spans only 1,762 feet, making it one of the shortest in the world. It’s also situated in the French Alps, leading to difficult winds and icy traditions.

Agatti Airport – Agatti Island, India

Aerial view of the landing strip at Agatti Airport
The landing strip at Agatti Airport runs right into the ocean. (Photo Credit: Julio / Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

It would be almost impossible to find a more beautiful airport than India’s Agatti Airport. The landing strip services 36 local tourist islands and is famous for rolling right into the ocean. To make navigating the airport even more difficult, the runway is only 4,000 feet long.

Gibraltar International Airport – Gibraltar

Aerial view of the landing strip at Gibraltar International Airport
The landing strip at Gibraltar International Airport runs over a major road. (Photo Credit: Scott Wylie / Flickr CC BY 2.0)

Gibraltar is an English holding at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Visitors flock to the area for the Mediterranean climate, and the abundance of sunshine has created a year-round tourist industry.

Many visitors arrive in the area via Gibraltar International Airport, which is unusual in that it was built directly over a major road. Drivers on Winston Churchill Avenue have barriers that prevent them from driving when planes are taking-off and landing.

Ice Runway – Antarctica

People exiting from the front of an airplane
Airplanes to Antarctica land on a well-manicured ice patch. (Photo Credit: Pbkiwi / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

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It’s fair to say there is no airport in the world quite like the one in Antarctica. In fact, it’s not an airport at all. It’s just an area where small-to-medium flights can land. There’s no runway, so to speak. Instead, aircraft land on a manicured stretch of ice that’s been paved. Pilots have to be careful to land gently.

 
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