From countries throughout Europe to cities in the United States, here's a list of abandoned airports with uniquely mysterious backstories. There's dust, rust, battle damage, and more; get ready!
Nicosia International Airport
Before this Cyprus airport was invaded by Turkish forces in 1974, it was deemed one of the most important spots in the country. Today, it sits empty, in shambles, and resides under the control of Cyprus' UN Peacekeeping Force.
In July 1974, Turkey invaded and sent airstrikes/several ground battalions to the airport. This caused major damage, and the last flight to depart from Nicosia Airport was in 1977 under UN Special Authorisation. After the official closing of the building, a new airport was built in the Republic of Cyprus.
Yasser Arafat International Airport
Situated in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip close to the Egyptian border, Yasser Arafat International Airport opened its doors in 1998. Present at the ribbon ceremony was Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the United States then-President, Bill Clinton. But amidst an intifada in 2000, the airport ceased operation.
When the control tower and radar station were badly damaged, followed by the runway being chopped to pieces via bulldozer, the Yasser Arafat International Airport became inoperable in January 2002. Today, the shining golden dome atop the remnants of the building continues to stand tall.
Floyd Bennett Field
In the airport's early days of operation, New York's first municipal airport, Floyd Bennett Field, became well-known for witnessing the history-making of Amelia Earheart. But, after opening in 1931, it was later transformed into a naval air station, and eventually, it closed its doors in the 1970s.
Since 1972, Floyd Bennett Field has been overseen by the National Park Service. Why? Well, because many of the buildings in the construction have been recognized as historic buildings. Today, Floyd Bennett remains one of America's largest urban campgrounds, since being reverted into a park.
Castellón – Costa Azahar Airport
One of the newer airports on our list is Castellón, the Costa Azahar Airport, which opened in 2011. However, when the terminals opened to the public, no airlines were signed up to depart from or land there. And, on top of that, the government had not approved of the building's operation.
So, after much delay, Spain's Castellón was finally approved for incoming and outgoing flights on April 1, 2012 (and no, it wasn't a joke)! But, a plane didn't touch down on the tarmac until three years later, in September 2015. With time, the airport became a money guzzler and was subsequently shut down and abandoned.
Kai Tak International Airport
Landings were notoriously dangerous and difficult at Hong Kong's Kai Tak International Airport due to the low approach to the city and abrupt landing on the runway. Moreso, the runway was surrounded by water on both sides. This made it dangerous for pilots and passengers, as well as the residents in the area.
The airport was soon deemed too dangerous and impractical to remain in operation. As a result, the Kai Tak International Airport was shut down for good in 1998 to make room for a new one in a much safer location in the country. Today, Kai Tak still welcomes tourists, but only via a guided cruise ship terminal tour.
Berlin Tempelhof Airport
The Berlin Tempelhof Airport was one of the first to be opened in Berlin, Germany, with its first terminal constructed way back in 1927. And, until 1949, Tempelhof found itself as the center of the Berlin Airlift. Unfortunately, its history was cut short when it became inactive and ceased operations in 2008.
Since the last plane touched the tarmac, the space has been turned into a recreational area; and as of 2015, amidst the European migrant crisis, an official emergency refugee camp. When used for the latter purpose, it had the capability to hold at least 1,200 people in a pair of former airplane hangers.
Damascus International Airport
Located in Damascus, Syria, the Damascus International Airport opened its doors in the mid-1970s. And, once it did, it quickly became the country's busiest airport. In fact, according to The Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the World Wide Web, about 5.5 million passengers used the airport in 2010.
Unfortunately, since the onset of the Syrian Civil War, the airport's entry road was closed. This caused many airlines to stop using its services, leading companies such as EgyptAir, Emirates, and Royal Jordanian to cancel and cease flight travel. Now, the building sits collecting dust like many others on this list.
Ciudad Real Central Airport
Also known as South Madrid Airport or Don Quijote Airport, the Ciudad Real Central Airport construction was completed, and doors opened in 2009. It cost $1 billion euros to bring to fruition, and once it stood tall, the building made history as the first private international Spanish airport.
The following year, international flights began to roll down the runway. But everything changed a short two years later. Unfortunately, due to financial stressors, the Ciudad Real Central Airport went bankrupt and closed in 2012. Then, for years and years, it stood alone, empty, and deserted.
Ellinikon International Airport
Ellinikon Airport was the main airport in Athens, Greece, for 60 years! It was constructed in 1938 and soon became the base for the Greek flag carrier Olympic Airways, which later went out of business. But, even though the airport was massively popular, it was then abandoned and turned into a venue for the 2004 Olympic Games.
Today, it's frozen in time with rust spanning its walls and an escalator stuffed with lever arch files (seen in the photo above). As of the past few years, rumors of the airport's land being converted into a luxury resort began to swirl. But until those plans come to fruition, as it stands now, Ellinikon serves as a refugee camp.
Stapleton International Airport
In its prime, Stapleton International Airport was one of the top 10 busiest airports in the world. But with more flight traffic, it soon became clear that there were unavoidable issues, such as the runways being dangerously close together. So, in later years, its buildings and runways were torn to pieces.
However, one piece of the Stapleton International Airport remains standing today - the towering original 12-story control tower. Now, this stand-out building didn't remain an operating airport part, but the space didn't go to waste either. In the end, it was transformed into a restaurant called Punch Bowl Social.
Marine Corps Air Station El Toro
Located close to Irvine, California, in the United States, the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro was home to the West Coast Marine's aviation. Its four runways were massive, and two of them were large enough to handle the largest aircraft in the U.S. military inventory.
The El Toro "Flying bull" was added in 1944 by Walt Disney Studios (who will make another entry on our list a bit later). Unfortunately, the airport was decommissioned in 1999 and was subsequently used as a filming location for several movies, including Top Gun.
Sergey Prokofiev International Airport
Ukraine's Donetsk International Airport, also referred to as Sergey Prokofiev International Airport, was the location of horrific battles throughout history. When the dust settled, the buildings were far too destroyed to remain in operation. So construction to rebuild the airport began in 1973 and again between 2011 and 2012.
But, even with reconstruction, very few planes ever touched the tarmac again. In fact, in 2013, when South Airlines Flight 8971 attempted to land at Donetsk International, it overshot the runway and crashed in an emergency landing. Sadly, five passengers did not survive the event. Now, it sits collecting dust.
Once located on the border of Croatia and Bosnia, under the Plješevica Mountain, was the largest underground airport in former Yugoslavia. The Željava Airbasewas, one of the largest in Europe, built starting in 1948; it took two decades to complete and was finally ready for service in 1968.
After about $6 billion dollars was spent on forming the base inside the mountain, it became one of the most elaborate military projects in all of Europe. Buried beneath about 590 feet of solid rock, the Željava Airbase was one of a kind. But, unfortunately, it was completely destroyed by an explosion during the Yugoslav Wars.
Lake Buena Vista Airport
Located at Disney World is Lake Buena Vista Airport, a tiny runway behind the famous amusement park. When it was operational, it had a special Disney twist. When planes reached speeds over 45 mph on the mini tarmac, it would trigger Pinocchio's "When You Wish Upon A Star" to play.
But, unfortunately, all of the fun on the runway is over because there haven't been any planes to touch down or take off from Lake Buena Vista Airport since the 1980s. And to make sure of it, the plane grooves were reportedly removed in later years, abandoning the magic of the cement road just slightly.
Goma International Airport
The Goma International Airport, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, once stood tall and wide with a nearly 1,000-foot runway. But, due to unforeseen natural circumstances, it was destroyed by the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano in 2002. Lava filled the entire runway, making it impossible to use.
Because of this, accidental loss of the lives of several passengers and flight crew, and wars that were happening simultaneously, the Goma International Airport closed its doors. After this, with a short amount of years, the location soon became a playground for children.
The Kalamaki Airfield finished being constructed in 1939 and was Greece's only international airport until 2001. However, over time the airport was eventually overpowered by the German Air Force due to the then-rising conflict between Germany and Greece.
During its last year of active service, the Kalamaki Airfield gained a massive record passenger capacity of over 13 million people! However, despite the accomplishment, the airport was suddenly closed due to the construction of a newer, better-equipped one.
Rangsdorf Soviet Airport
The Rangsdorf Soviet Airport opened its doors in 1936 and stood as a testament to many historical events. Initially, Rangsdorf was considered to be a sporting airport, one only used on occasion. However, it soon began equipped to receive international flights from around the globe as well.
In later years, the same area of land where the airport resided was overtaken and claimed by the Soviets. This was a large loss for the people of Berlin. But, in 1944, the invasion of power left. However, this did not mean that the airport regained flight abilities.
Johnston Atoll Airport
One of the most historic abandoned airports globally, Johnston Atoll Airport is situated in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles south of Hawaii. Originally, it was a U.S. military base, but during WWII, it acted as a hub. And by 1994, it became one of the busiest transport terminals via air in the Pacific.
In later years during WWII, it was hit by Japanese submarines. This caused the seemingly floating airport to be greatly disturbed and eventually close in 2005. In fact, since then, and to this day, Johnston Atoll remains in ruins - completely abandoned in the ocean.
The Ugolny Airport was a mixed-use military and civilian airport that sat located on the Gulf of Anadyr, a large bay in Siberia. Although it is still attainable to visit the remnants of the airport thanks to helicopters, the space has since become next to useless in terms of travel ability.
In addition, due to its remote location, being so tucked away, the Ugolny Airport was subsequently overpowered as part of a strategic plan that was formed for protection. More specifically, in the case that a rising conflict with another country would call for a safe haven.
The Galeville Shawangunk airport was built during WWII but wasn't necessarily meant for purposes other than academic ones. This might sound a bit confusing, but pilots in the area had to learn somewhere! The airport was later renovated with two newly paved runways...
But they weren't used until later. Eventually, Galeville became eligible for civilian transportation use, not just one dedicated to the military. Today, the airport is no longer able to function as a typical airport; however, it has since been adopted by the Shawangunk Grasslands National Wildlife Refuge.
Montréal Mirabel Airport
The Montréal Mirabel Airport was initially created to act as a major hub for many commercial flights. But its grand opening didn't necessarily cause a buzz way back then. Unfortunately, the airport soon became quite difficult for the Montréal Mirabel to convince passengers to use its services.
This occurrence could have been due to the high cost of tickets for distant locations. But, instead, the opposite of the intention happened, and the Montréal Mirabel Airport quickly declined in usage and eventually was left empty without a flight in sight.
Willy Brandt International Airport
Construction for the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt International Airport began semi-recently in 2006, with the plan of opening its doors in 2011. But, issues such as escalators that were too short or a broken and non-fixable smoke-extraction system pushed back the opening date...
This didn't happen just once either - no, not twice, but three times. This is all part of the reason why the Berlin-Brandenburg Willy Brandt International Airport has yet to clear its first flight on the tarmac. Unfortunately, all of the nearly $6 billion costs have been for nothing so far.
Meigs Field in Chicago was a single-strip airport in the U.S. with the highest amount of reported foot traffic. Flashback to the '50s, and it was active to private aircraft and commuter airlines. Then, plans were formed to turn the airstrip into a park, but a compromise was reached between Illinois and the city of Chicago.
To keep the airport's doors open for 25 more years, beginning in 2003, then-Mayor Daley made an ultimate decision. So, he told Chicago city crews to deem the airport inoperable by carving massive X-shaped indentations into the runways. The airport was then turned into a park and nature sanctuary.
The RAF Binbrook
The RAF Binbrook can be found close by Brookenby, England, and it was utilized by the UK Airforce until the 1980s. Before it gained recognition in later years, it was used to fend off attackers during WWII. But, as famous as it is, many people are unaware that it was the RAF Binbrook that inspired 1990's, Memphis Belle.
Despite its history of keeping enemies away, it has since been decaying in place. As seen in the photo above, not much of the area is still standing today. However, it is clear that the RAF Binbrook was able to do some good, both in terms of protection and in leaving a solid mark in the movie industry.
After the NOLA Airport became unused by civilians and the rest, a Red Bull Terminal Takeover completely transformed the former New Orleans airport into three amazingly custom-built skate parks. "We spend so much of our lives in airports as pro skaters," said Red Bull athlete Jake Wooten.
"...We take four-hour layovers and daydream about what could be done on our boards. I look at stairs and rails. They're the smallest architectural features, but a skate spot is all I see," he continued. So, he made his vision a reality and has since enjoyed skating with ample space!
The Dabolim Airport resides in Goa, India. And, during the Annexation of Goa in December 1961, it was bombarded by the Indian Air Force. This destroyed many of the airport's buildings, as seen in the photo below. Luckily there were two planes at the airport at the time that escaped with refugees.
After years of sitting abandoned, in 2006, the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry announced that they wanted to refurbish the airport. At a minimum, they hoped to convert the remaining terminal to be for domestic flight and add a new international passenger one. When 2013 came around, travelers of both kinds were welcomed.
Sukhumi Babushara Airport
Previously called the Sukhumi Dranda Airport, the Sukhumi Babushara Airport is the main way to fly in Abkhazia. Built in the mid-1960s, when the region was still part of the Soviet Union, the tarmac was strictly used for domestic flights. Then, the runways were damaged greatly during the Civil War.
Unfortunately, because of the wreck, the airport was out of service and left abandoned. But, in 2006, the government of the Republic of Abkhazia expressed wanting to construct a way for the airport to handle international air travel in the future. While this is still in the works, no construction has begun yet.
Robert Mueller Municipal Airport
This airport was only open from 1930 to 1999, but located in Austin, Texas; it certainly saw a lot of traffic as the first civilian airport in the city. The name comes in memory of Robert Mueller, a city commissioner who passed away while in office. Once known as AUS, the airport was soon closed and replaced by another nearby.
Replaced by the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, which took over the AUS code, the only part of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport that still stands is its control tower. After almost a decade of standing still, about 20 acres and 10K square feet of hangars were converted into sound stages, now called Austin Studios.
Berlin Brandenburg Airport
Germany's Berlin Brandenburg Airport was built starting in 2006. And, while it was constructed to replace Tempelhof Airport and others, the building process took longer than expected due to poor planning and corruption. Once things finally got on track, lots of pieces of the project laid dormant.
For example, the airport's terminal 5 was due to be completed by October 2020; however, like many other items on this airport's to-do list, they were abandoned. With the airport only receiving its operational license in May 2020, 14 years after construction began, we're wondering if the years it sat in wait helped or hurt it.
Manston, Kent International Airport
Located in England, the Manston Airport consisted of a single runway about one mile from the coastline. But, while the airport could handle some of the larger airplanes, many of the airlines that flew in and out of it decided to part ways for various reasons.
After losing a handful of airline services, it was announced in 2014 that daily losses were said to be over 13K. Because of this, Manston's Chief Executive announced that the airport would close in April 2014. Thus, May 15th, 2014, was the airport's last day with open doors. Since then, the tarmac remains empty and abandoned.
In 1928, Britain's first international airport London Terminal Aerodrome opened in Croydon, Surrey. Not only was it the very first airport control tower built there, but the idea and implementation of an airport hotel too! But, that's not all for historical events occurring at this once buzzing airport.
In fact, Winston Churchill took flying lessons there years back! Post-WWII, the air traffic needs of Britain outgrew Croydon Airport, causing it to close its doors in 1959. However, decades later, many terminal structures remain, and a visitor center later opened inside the deserted airport's iconic control tower.
The Jaisalmer Airport, located in Rajasthan, India, came to fruition in 2013 to supply flights to the people of Jaisalmer, also known as India's Golden City. Recognized around the area for its sandstone architecture and detailed exterior, the airport was expected to be an exciting addition to the community.
However, due to a lack of interest by commercial airlines, no flights took off from Jaisalmer's runway. So, the airport was abandoned from when it was built in 2013 until 2017. During that time, the tarmac remained empty, with baggage claim carousels unused, seats within the airport coated in dust, and not a human being in sight.
Blatchford Field Airport
Canada's Blatchford Field Airport is known by a couple of names, including that previously mentioned, and Edmonton City Centre Airport, or, the Alberta Aviation Museum. The airport hangars were built between 1939 to 1942, and once completed, Blatchford Field became the first licensed airfield in Canada.
Unfortunately, the airport was closed and abandoned in 2013. Since then, hangar #14 was transformed into The Alberta Aviation Museum, where many historic planes reside to this day. And, as of 2018, the airport's land came under construction for redevelopment by the City of Edmonton into a community called Blatchford.
W.H. Bramble Airport
Between 1995 and 1997, the W.H. Bramble Airport was utterly demolished by an enormous volcanic eruption that changed the lives of people on the Caribbean island of Montserrat forever. The airport became covered in ash and lava, leaving the tarmac unusable. The city and port soon turned to nothing but rubble.
After the eruption, Montserrat was only accessible via helicopter or boat. With the population devastated, unemployment rates were at an all-time high as the area's primary income, tourism, came to a halt. Hope was later restored in 2005 when a new airport was built elsewhere to improve access for residents and visitors.
Yangyang International Airport
South Korea's Yangyang International Airport was built with the intention of serving the many travelers that increased the need for international flights. So, the airport was constructed quickly. However, the country's government overestimated the demand for this construction…
The airport was beautifully created; however, passengers never passed through. So, throughout the years since its doors "opened," the truth of the matter is that Yangyang International Airport has sat completely empty without any passengers arriving or departing.
Durban International Airport
Before the name of the Durban International Airport came to be, it was called Louis Botha International. Since its opening in 1951, the airfield suffered low international passenger flight paths, leading to the eventual building of another airport in South Africa that was more equipped for that kind of travel.
Due to this, and the Durban International airport's tarmac being considered too short for several planes that wished to land in the area, the airport soon became empty. In the years between when it opened and when it came under construction in 2007, the airport sat unused and abandoned.
Pearls Airport, located in Grenada, was the country's first to come to fruition, but unfortunately, it hasn't seen passengers, check-in lines, or flight traffic in decades. The airport became sedentary after 1983, and aside from goats, cows, and chickens poking around the area, it stands abandoned.
Those that reside around the Pearls Airport area have reported the runway being used for drag racing in recent years, like several other abandoned airports throughout the globe. In the grass around the airport buildings stand two Soviet planes that remain somewhat intact despite decaying over time.
Eareckson Air Station
Previously known as the Shemya Air Force Base, the Eareckson Air Station is a United States Airforce Military Airport located on Shemya island within the Alaskan Aleutian Islands. Even though the U.S. Air Force still owns the grounds, all air traffic ceased in July 1994.
With just one runway, the Eareckson Air Station stands alone along the coast. However, it is not the only abandoned tarmac in the area. Post-WWII, most of the Alaskan airways had been deserted and deemed non-operational. Nevertheless, the control tower remains, standing tall above the ground.
Located near the town of Sperenberg, within the city of Brandenburg, Germany, is the abandoned military airbase, Sperenberg Airfield. Initially created for the Prussian Army, the site was used as an army laboratory at its start. Years passed, and in 1945, the area was overrun by the Red Army and was subsequently abandoned.
In the early 1990s, the land was considered an option for expanding and rebuilding the Berlin-Brandenburg airport, mentioned earlier. However, due to the events that took place in previous years, another location, the Berlin Shoenfeld Airport, was chosen instead.
Davis – Monthan Air Force Base
Next on our list is an air force base turned plane graveyard. Located outside of Tuscon, Arizona, the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base has been deemed the perfect place to preserve and store aircrafts, thanks to its dry climate. Years back, from 1925-1945, the base was active, but since the end of WWII, the location grew quiet.
This large air force base has been widely considered to have fulfilled its mission. And in today's day and age, as seen in the photo above, the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base since became the most significant aircraft cemetery in the world! How about that for a cool place to visit?