25 Most Dangerous Airport Runways

Posted by , Updated on April 24, 2024

Do you have the courage to touch down on these 25 Most Hazardous Airport Runways? It’s undeniable: journeys can often cause a good deal of stress. There’s more to it than just coordinating logistics and ensuring everything is well-prepared.

Sometimes, it’s getting on the plane that’s the most nerve-wracking, especially if you have a fear of flying. Not all fears of flying are unjustified. As you’ll soon see, some of these destinations have the worst airport runways ever!

If you are one of the many people who have a flying phobia, you’ll want to stay away from these 25 Most Dangerous Airport Runways!


Svalbard Airport, Norway


What would you think if we told you that there’s an airport in Norway built on ice? What? You don’t believe us? Actually, we can make things even more unbelievable for you. Under the runways are culverts, which allow water to run from the local mountains. Cool huh?

Wait, it gets even “better.” Because of the lack of runway lights in this airport, flights are only permitted during daylight. If it gets dark earlier and you have to land at the Svalbard Airport, the best thing to do is to start praying!


Wellington International Airport, New Zealand


Landings in this airport can be extremely hazardous. The reason’s very simple. There’s only one very short runway that begins and ends in crystal blue waters.

Despite being a very dangerous place to land a plane, its scenic beauty makes it one of the most beautiful airports in the world.


Los Angeles International, USA


According to Travel + Leisure, Los Angeles International is the venue for what the FAA calls an “ongoing intensive outreach program.” In other words, pilots, controllers, and vehicle operators there need to be trained constantly on the best new practices. Why?

To make sure that everything works safely for the passengers. Additionally, Los Angeles International has been ranked multiple times throughout the years as the most dangerous airport in the US.


San Diego International Airport, United States


Similar to LAX, San Diego International Airport is also considered to be one of the busiest commercial airports in the US. Entrance to the airport is blocked on the south and east side due to the mountains. Even further south lies the border of Mexico.

This means that planes have to both take off and enter on the west side, barely just passing by each other.


Agatti Aerodrome, Lakshadweep, India


This airport is surrounded by nothing except the Indian Ocean. It really makes you wonder what would happen if something went wrong during landing. Or if the pilot needed more space to take off. The 4,000-foot-long Agatti Aerodrome is so arbitrary and small that it really looks like a piece of a larger runway was lost at sea somehow.



Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport, USA

runway gravestoneshttps://www.thestate.com/latest-news/article181700931.html

In this airport something really macabre and bizarre happens. Embedded in Runway 10’s tarmac you will find a pair of grave markers that belong to the previous landowners where the airport now sits. It was their wish to be buried there. Alright, no dangerous exactly but still…


Narsarsuaq Airport, Greenland


Landing at this naturally beautiful and remote airport can either be an amazing or horrific experience. For the pilots, it is undoubtedly a bit of a nightmarish experience.

See, landing there involves flying up a fjord while the threat of severe turbulence and wind shear makes things even more dangerous.


Kansai International Airport, Japan


Kansai’s artificial island is 2.5 miles long and 1.6 miles wide. It’s so large that it’s rumored to be visible from space. From an engineering point of view, the airport there is one of the most impressive in the world.

However, the frequent earthquakes, powerful cyclones, and unstable seabed make this engineering masterpiece one of the most dangerous airports as well.


Don Mueang International Airport, Thailand


This is a very deceiving airport. At first you won’t notice anything unusual about it. However, if you pay closer attention, you’ll notice the weirdest thing ever! Right in the middle of the two runways, someone had the not so brilliant idea to create an eighteen-hole golf course.

That makes this airport not only a dangerous place for golfers, but one of the most bizarre airports out there as well.


Paro Airport, Bhutan


To begin with, only eight pilots are qualified to land in this airport. And there are thousands of pilots in this world. This Himalayan airport is 1.5 miles above sea level and surrounded by sharp peaks of up to 18,000 feet. Add in the mix that the airport’s runway is only 6,500 feet long.

It’s rumored that the majority of passengers flying to this tiny airport, usually take anti-anxiety meds before the flight to steady their nerves. Why we’re not surprised?


Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong


This place was considered by many pilots as the world’s scariest airport. Maybe that why it was closed in 1998. The strong crosswinds and the surrounding mountains added to the difficulties of landing there.

At one time, this destination was one of the most avoided for local travelers. They didn’t call it “the mother of all scary airports” for nothing.


Barra International Airport, Scotland


Barra International Airport is truly unique. It’s the only airport worldwide where scheduled flights use a beach as the runway. The beach is set out with three runways in the shape of a triangle. They don’t call folks there Highlanders for nothing after all.


Congonhas Airport, Brazil


What makes this airport dangerous is that it’s located only five miles from the city’s downtown. Most big cities construct their airports several miles away from the downtown for safety reasons. Apparently the people of São Paulo didn’t get the memo.

As a result, every landing at this airport becomes a challenge. Rumor has it that pilots need a strong dose of alcohol after the flight to calm their nerves down.


Gisborne Airport, New Zealand


This could easily be the craziest and most strangely dangerous airport in the world. Why? Well, the Palmerston North–Gisborne railway line cuts straight across the airport’s main runway. Yep, you read that correctly: the air traffic controllers must coordinate takeoffs and landings with train arrivals among other things.

The rail line has recently closed because of storm damage, but the airport is still open and functional. However, it now only carries freight and has not carried people since 2001.


Lukla Airport, Nepal


This tiny airport in the town of Lukla, Nepal, is considered to be the most dangerous in the world. It’s located at an immense height of 2,900 meters. As for its landing strip? It includes a high mountain on one end and over a thousand meter drop on the other. Ideal for your landing, right?


Courchevel Altiport, France


Courchevel Altiport is one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Regardless, the super rich folks who want to ski there during Christmas, take their risks.

To get there, requires navigating the formidable French Alps before making a blood-curdling landing at Courchevel Airport. The runway is about 1,700 feet long, but the real surprise is the large hill toward the middle of the strip.


Old Mariscal Sucre International Airport, Ecuador


The Old Mariscal Sucre International Airport was a nightmare for even the most experienced of pilots. A high-altitude airport that laid right in the heart of Ecuador’s densely populated capital. A fact that increased risk factors.

Furthermore, the mountainous terrain, active volcanoes, and fog made landing there nearly a mission impossible. To top it all off was the horrible runway that was known for being notoriously bumpy. It finally closed and was replaced by the new Mariscal Sucre International Airport in 2013.


Toncontin International Airport, Honduras


The runway of the Toncontin International Airport is located in a valley surrounded by mountains. But that’s not the only problem there. See, the way in is the same as the way out. Not exactly a wise decision of whoever designed this airport.

Despite all these extremely high-risk factors, planes as enormous as Boeing 757’s land and take off from there daily.


Gibraltar International Airport, Gibraltar


This airport may look perfectly normal at first glance. A closer look though, may change your mind. Undoubtedly, the most exceptional feature about this airport is that the main landing strip passes through the city’s main street.

Yep, you guessed right. Every time an aircraft has to land or take off, the vehicles in the city have to stop for the train to pass . . . oops, we meant for the plane to fly.


Madeira Airport, Portugal


Madeira is famous for two things: being the birthplace of Cristiano Ronaldo and its international airport. The famous soccer player is the most famous celebrity in the world currently. Unfortunately, we can’t say the same about the local airport. To begin with, it has an extremely short runway even though its size was doubled back in 2003.

Additionally, the ocean is on one side, and high rough mountains are on the other. It’s widely considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world. Just look at its picture and you will understand why.


Princess Juliana International Airport, Saint Martin


Princess Juliana International Airport is one of the busiest airports in the Caribbean. It’s also one of the most complicated airports to land at.  See, pilots have to go through some obstacles before they land there.

They have to fly over a small public part of the beach, cross over a fence, pass over a road, and then finally, land on the runway. Not exactly the safest airport in the world, eh?


Ice Runway, Antarctica


Ice Runway is one of three major airstrips used to haul supplies and researchers to Antarctica’s McMurdo Station. It was developed to allow Boeing 757’s to bring passengers there, freeing up space on incoming C17’s for greater cargo capacity.

As you can probably imagine, the real dangers with this airport have mainly to do with the extreme weather conditions. The design or position of the airport aren’t too bad really.


Gustaf III Airport, Saint Barthélemy


This airport has an incredibly short runway. It usually accommodates small aircrafts carrying fewer than twenty passengers. The runway is at the base of a slope that ends on the beach.

Furthermore, planes exercise caution during the approach because of the hilltop traffic. As for the absolute highlight in this airport? The take-off! It literally takes place over the heads of the people who may have the bad luck to be close to the airport.


Qamdo Bamda Airport, Tibet


Tibet is located in the world’s highest mountains, the Himalayas. Thus, the Qamdo Bamda is one of the world’s highest airports. It was created in an area that’s 14,000 feet above sea level.

The good news is that its 3.5-mile-long runway is considered to be the longest in the world. The low concentration of oxygen at such altitude though, may cause some discomfort to newcomers. And that’s not the only problem.

The high-altitude there also lowers the aircraft engines’ performance, making landing a nightmarish experience for everyone on the plane.


Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba Island


Getting to this beautiful Caribbean island can be quite an experience. Why? Well, let’s just say that this airport is nothing more than a 1,300-foot-long runway.

Surrounded by high cliffs, this dangerously short runway comes awfully close to a steep slope that leads directly to the ocean. To get a better idea, large planes don’t even attempt to land there. The small runway is difficult even for Cessna aircrafts.