September 28, 2021

World’s 10 most stunning airport approaches

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Malta Airport (Malta)

Malta Airport (Malta)

From CNN

They don’t have airplanes in “Game of Thrones” but if they did, there’d be no finer arrival in King’s Landing than Malta Airport.

The spectacular walled city of Valletta, so familiar from the HBO show, rises up from the turquoise Mediterranean Sea, while airline passengers also get a bird’s-eye view of the sister islands of Gozo and Comino, known for its Blue Lagoon.

No wonder Malta has topped a global survey of the world’s most scenic airport approaches, conducted by PrivateFly, a booking platform for private jet charters.
“Flying into Malta is a truly special experience,” says Adam Twidell, PrivateFly CEO and an experienced pilot. “It’s a tiny island landing that packs a big punch.”

When you’re flying into these 10 beauties, which offer views of everything from mountainous landscapes to glittering skyscrapers, you’re going to want to be in the window seat.

France’s Nice Cote D’Azur Airport and New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport came in second and third place in the 2016 poll, having topped the list in 2015 and 2014 respectively.

Malta made its debut at the top of the charts, while the other new entries were Los Angeles International Airport, at number 9, and Ireland’s Donegal Airport, at number 7.

Los Angeles’ LAX offers views of downtown, the Pacific Coast, Beverly Hills and the iconic Hollywood sign.

And at the other end of the scale, isolated Donegal Airport offers spectacular views of Ireland’s rugged Atlantic coast.
The PrivateFly Best Airport Approaches 2016 poll was conducted in February and March of this year and received more than 7,500 individual votes, says the company.

A total of 115 global airports received nominations.

“PrivateFly’s poll has become an annual checklist for the well-traveled, and this year’s voting was the most competitive yet,” says Twidell.

“The 2016 top ten includes the imposing city views of Los Angeles and London City; the stunning mountain scenery of Queenstown; the tiny island airstrip of Saba in the Caribbean [the world’s shortest commercial runway]; and the unique beach landing at Barra in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.”

Here are the top 10 scenic airport approaches, according to PrivateFly’s 2016 survey:
1. Malta Airport, Malta
2. Nice Cote D’Azur Airport, France
3. Queenstown Airport, New Zealand
4. Barra Airport, Scotland, UK
5. Saba Airport (Juancho E Yrausquin), Caribbean Netherlands
6. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Canada
7. Donegal Airport, Ireland
8. St. Maarten Airport (Princess Juliana International), Caribbean
9. Los Angeles International Airport, California
10. London City Airport, UK

Previous winners of the annual poll include Queenstown Airport in New Zealand (2015), Nice Cote D’Azur (2014), St. Maarten in the Caribbean (2013) and Barra in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides (2012).

10. London City Airport (UK) – Flying into London City Airport on a clear day, those in window seats get views of the Thames and London landmarks. For pilots, it’s challenging. PrivateFly says the glide path is set at stomach-churning 5.8 degrees as opposed to the usual 3-degree glide path.

9. Los Angeles International Airport – “The descent over the mountains takes one from desert to the lush Pacific Coast and on a westward approach gives those on the right-hand side a bird’s-eye view of downtown, the Hollywood sign and Beverly Hills,” says poll judge Doug Gollan.

8. St. Maarten Airport (Saint Martin) – At this Caribbean island airport, the approach is “so low you can almost read the sunbathers’ newspapers,” says PrivateFly CEO Adam Twidell.

7. Donegal Airport (Ireland) – “You arrive in the Emerald Isle adjacent to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Carrickfinn, with a backdrop of the majestic Mount Errigal on one side and an array of craggy islands on the other.” That’s one PrivateFly user’s enthusiastic verdict on this airport on Ireland’s Atlantic coast.

6. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Canada) – Commonly known as Toronto Island Airport, Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is a small facility located on an island in Lake Ontario in Canada’s largest city. It’s accessed by passenger ferry and is used by regional airlines and smaller air services.

5. Juancho E Irausquin Airport (Saba) – Juancho E Irausquin Airport is the only airport on the Caribbean island of Saba, a special municipality of the Netherlands. It’s got the shortest commercial runway in the world (396 meters) and is flanked on one side by high hills, with cliffs that drop into the sea at both ends. Due to the runway length, only small aircraft and helicopters use it.

4. Barra Airport (UK) – Barra Airport in Scotland is the only airport in the world where scheduled and private charter flights land and take off from the beach. At high tide, the runways are under water, says PrivateFly.

3. Queenstown Airport (New Zealand) – Located in the heart of the NZ South Island’s magical landscapes of mountains, lakes and rivers, there’s little surprise Queenstown Airport again ranks among the world’s most scenic airport approaches.

2. Nice Cote d’Azur Airport (France) – Nice Cote d’Azur Airport is located six kilometers southwest of Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes department of France. It’s the main point of arrival for passengers to the French Riviera.

1. Malta Airport (Malta) – Malta Airport tops the list for the first time this year. “Approached from a churning blue sea, the tiny, isolated rocky island nation suddenly appears,” says PrivateFly judge Joe Sharkey.

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