dangerous airport landing flight

29+ Most Dangerous Airports Worldwide


| LAST UPDATE 10/31/2023

By Arianna Morgan

Airports can be found in almost every corner of the earth, but some are definitely considered more of a flight risk than others. Check out these international hubs that have been dubbed the most dangerous out there!

Agatti Aerodrome Airport - Lakshadweep, India

Let's start off strong, shall we? Located in the union territory of Lakshadweep, at the southern end of the Agatti Island in India, the Agatti Aerodrome Airport is the only airport in Lakshadweep.

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Being the only airport in Lakshadweep, Agatti Airport is home to 36 local Indian tourist islands. But what exactly makes it one of the world's most dangerous airports in the world? Well, Agatti Aerodrome is essentially a 4,000-foot-long strip of land situated in the deep water, making it a tricky take-off and landing.

Tenzing-Hillary Airport - Lukla, Nepal

Year in and year out, people travel to Nepal to climb and conquer Mount Everest, but what makes the airport itself so dangerous? The Tenzing-Hillary Airport, located in Lukla, Nepal, sits at an altitude of 8,000 feet and is known for its extreme and unpredictable weather conditions, on top of its insanely short runway.

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The runway is only 1,729 feet, as opposed to the 8,000-13,000 feet most other runways are, making it very challenging for pilots to navigate and land safely. On top of the harsh weather conditions and short airplane runways, the airport itself doesn't have trusted electricity, resulting in no modern air traffic control features.

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Princess Juliana Airport - Saint Maarten, Caribbean

Don't let the name fool you! The Princess Juliana Airport, located on Saint Maarten island in the Caribbean, might sound more inviting than it is for some. The famous international airport is the main airport on the island and has become a sightseeing adventure for plane-spotters around the world.

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The Princess Juliana Airport is actually located right next to a public beach, giving all beach-goers a massive shock of wind and sand when the planes take off and land, as the plane virtually feels on top of you! There are signs all over the beach warning people not to get too close. Not to mention, the landing strip is only 7,000 ft.

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Congonhas Airport - Sao Paulo, Brazil

It may be the second busiest airport in Brazil, but it is also one of the riskiest for airplane takeoff and landing. Located in a densely popular area near Sao Paulo, the Congonhas Airport is known for its slippery runways that have unfortunately caused multiple accidents in previous years.

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In 2007, an airplane overshot the runway after landing on the slippery strip, causing the aircraft to cross into a roadway and crash into a warehouse, killing over 200 people. That year, the airport created a new drain system for rainwater and restricted the weight of airplanes flying into the airport.

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Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport - Saba, Dutch Caribbean

This airport may be located in one of the world's most beautiful places, but it's definitely pretty risky to get there! Located on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Saba, Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport is known for its short runway situated right between three cliff edges over the sea and the fourth side surrounded by high hills.

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So, how short is short? 1,312 feet. According to Simple Flying, the runway at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport holds the record for the shortest-used commercial passenger flight in the whole world! Some people might find out that information and decide to avoid the airport at all costs, but others are fascinated by the experience.

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Paro International Airport - Paro, Bhutan

A minimal number of experienced pilots are allowed to land at Bhutan's Paro International Airport, making it one of the world's most dangerous airports. Sitting in the Himalayas at 7,364 feet above sea level, the airport only allows flights during the daytime under good visibility but often is diverted due to poor weather.

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Besides the short runway, pilots face the major challenge of flying entirely in manual mode, as there is no radar to guide planes into the airport. These skilled pilots also have to take into consideration electrical poles and house roofs on the hillside as they navigate between the mountains before safely landing.

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Kansai International Airport -Osaka, Japan

Nearly three decades ago, when the Kansai International Airport opened, it was viewed as a modern engineering phenomenon. The airport was built on an artificial island in the middle of Osaka Bay, just 24 miles from Osaka Station in Japan. The idea was to build Kansai in order to avoid overcrowding at Osaka International Airport.

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But since it was built on an artificial island, problems quickly presented themselves. The island, built 2.5 miles in length and 1.5 miles wide, is susceptible to earthquakes and cyclones and faces many weather hazards. In addition, the site was built on compacted fill and is sinking at a fast rate of 2-4 centimeters per year.

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Madeira Airport - Madeira, Portugal

Situated just off the coast on the small island of Madeira in Portugal, the Madeira Airport is known for its short airstrip that sits between large cliffs and the ocean. The airport's short runway was actually built up in recent years by adding columns to make it safer to land on.

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The runway has now almost doubled its size and is not 9,124 feet long. Phew. However, the extreme weather conditions and geographical location make plane landings and takeoff dangerous. On a different note, in 2017, the airport was renamed the Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport in honor of the soccer star born on the island.

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Courchevel Altiport - Courchevel, France

For those who are interested in doing some skiing in the French Alps, this one may (or not) be for you. The exclusive Courchevel Altiport is nestled between the mountainside and is situated just a minute away from five-star hotels, popular ski slopes, and luxury chalets.

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However, arriving at the Altiport itself can be risky due to its incredibly short runway, sitting at 1,761 feet, and its unreliable weather conditions. The Altiport allows helicopters from local hubs such as Chambery or Geneva or private planes to arrive on the cliff-side runway. So, time to break out those skis, right?!

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Svalbard Airport - Longyearbyen, Norway

When landing at the Svalbard Airport in Norway, there is little to no error allowed! Pilots who land at the Svalbard airport face extremely difficult weather conditions and are only permitted to fly during the daytime, which can cause major flight schedule issues for passengers.

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However, the most dangerous part of the Svalbard Airport is the 8,000-foot runway that is built on ice. The airport was built on permafrost with an insulated runway to prevent it from melting during the summer months. However, due to global warming, the airstrip might not have that many years left on it, causing it to shut down.

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Toncontín International Airport - Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Between its short runway, strong wind gusts from the high altitude, and mountainous landscape, the Toncontín International Airport in Honduras has secured a spot as one of the most dangerous airports in the world. This airport's runway is one of the world's shortest for commercial planes, at 7,000 feet.

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For pilots, landing at this airport is especially tricky due to the mountainous terrain and navigating between neighborhood homes. Pilots are required to make a sharp 45-degree turn minutes before touchdown to ensure a safe landing, but unfortunately, there have been deaths due to miscalculating the runway length.

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Hechi Jinchengjiang Airport

Talk about risky! This airport opened up in 2014, making it easier for travelers to get to Hechi, a city in China's southern Guangxi province. However, those traveling to and out of Hechi Jinchengjiang Airport might want to check out the place first before buying a ticket!

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Engineers somehow leveled several mountain tops to bring this 1.4-mile-long runway to life, which is located right in between multiple mountain ranges. Hechi Airport sits at 2,200 feet above sea level and has only one terminal and one runway, meaning it can only schedule three flights an hour.

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Barra Airport - Eoilgarry, Scotland

For those interested in unique travel experiences, the Barra Airport is worth the visit. According to the travel agency Opodo, the Barra Airport in Scotland is one of the smallest airports in the world, servicing under 12,000 people in 2022. The airport mostly sees privately chartered flights and small propeller aircraft.

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However, what makes this airport especially risky is its incredibly short runway that uses the beach as its runway. All flight landings at this one-of-a-kind airport depend on the ocean tide, meaning at high tide, the runway is completely underwater, and flights cannot land.

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Gibraltar International Airport -Gibraltar

These pilots have it tough! At the Gibraltar International Airport, pilots are faced with the nearly impossible task of landing safely on the airstrip but also worrying about oncoming traffic. The short 6,000-foot runway sits between two bodies of water, the Bay of Gibraltar on one side and the Mediterranean Ocean on the other.

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In addition to the tricky geographical situation at the Gibraltar airport, the airport has an incredibly busy highway that passes through its runway. In order to avoid disastrous accidents between cars and planes, the highway shuts down for ten minutes during landing and takeoff times.

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Saint Barthélemy Airport- Saint Barthélemy

The tiny Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy is known as the go-to hot spot for people looking to have a luxurious vacation full of gourmet restaurants, upscale hotels, gorgeous beaches, and high-fashion shopping. But, what we didn't know is that the Saint Barthélemy Airport is one of the most risky in the world.

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Regarded as one of the most challenging airports in the world, The St. Barts Airport is located near a 150-foot hill, with several mountain ranges surrounding the 2,1000-foot runway, and sits right near the popular St. Jeans beach. Due to tricky takeoff and landing measures, only small commercial and charter planes are allowed.

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Wellington International -Wellington, New Zealand

Add this one to the list of the most risky airports in the world! The Wellington International Airport, located in New Zealand, was first known as the Rongotai Airport before getting a name switch. But what makes this airport so dangerous for pilots all around the world to land?

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Located about 3.5 miles away from the city's center, the runway of this international airport is only 6,351 feet! Not to mention, the short airstrip has two bodies of water surrounding it, one at the start of the runway and one at the end. Maybe it's best to have your window shut during take-off and landing for this one.

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Don Mueang International Airport - Bangkok, Thailand

Although this airport doesn't sit between two bodies of water, and it doesn't have a busy freeway cutting through it or an insanely short runway on a thick piece of ice, the Don Mueang International Airport in Thailand is considered one of the world's most dangerous airports.

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Previously known as the Bangkok International Airport, this airport is actually situated right between two gold courses, which certainly makes it pretty risky! The Don Mueang International Airport is one of two international airports in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region.

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Kai Tak Airport - Kowloon, Hong Kong

Although the Kai Tak Airport was replaced by the Hong Kong International Airport in 1998, it was once considered an extremely hazardous place for pilots to land. Pilots were explicitly trained to maneuver the many skyscrapers and 2300-foot-tall mountain ranges that surround Hong Kong.

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Due to the extreme weather conditions, specifically, when typhoon winds arise, pilots would have to approach landing extremely carefully and, a lot of the time, would have to make multiple attempts to land safely. Kai Tak was a true experience for passengers as well, as the plane would fly so low you could see into people's homes!

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Gisborne Airport - Gisborne, New Zealand

Gisborne Airport is famously known for its peculiar railway line that crosses right through the airport, making it both fascinating and threatening. Located on the east coast of New Zealand's North Island, the Palmerston North-Gisborne Line crosses the airport's main runway, begging the question of how it works.

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The tiny airport is home to just one terminal with one main runway where the railway line crosses. The railway service is used mainly for cargo services and operates infrequently. It is the only train in the Southern Hemisphere and requires permission to make a crossing. Okay, that sounds good!

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Akureyri Airport - Akureyri, Iceland

Located about two miles from the city center, Akureyri Airport in Iceland has historically been a difficult airport for pilots to navigate. The single-runway international airport has been named one of Europe's most challenging airports simply due to its remote location and terrain layout.

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Pilots are tasked with navigating mountainous volcanic terrain and, in response, must descend at a much quicker rate than they would usually. Due to the local tourism increase, the airport is currently expanding its ramp area and extending its passenger terminal to be completed sometime next year.

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Matekane Airstrip - Lesotho, South Africa

This one is only for some-literally. The Matekane Airstrip in Lesotho is located in a mostly rural area that is mostly used for people who need smaller planes to get around and for doctors or humanitarians who are using the airstrip to reach these rural communities.

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The landlocked country in South Africa is home to one of the most terrifying airstrips in the world, known as the Matekane Airstrip. The Matekane Airstrip is essentially a 1600-foot-long grass strip that sits at the top of a 1900-foot-tall cliff, meaning no error is allowed when it comes to taking off and landing!

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Narsarsuaq Airport - Narsarsuaq, Greenland

Being the only international airport south of Greenland, the Narsarsuaq Airport sees a lot of foot traffic from its smaller village. The airport mainly serves as a passenger transfer platform for those who are looking to enjoy the beautiful and scenic environment that is Greenland.

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The airport, however, is considered a risky situation for pilots as they face an incredibly short runway of 6,000 feet and constant strong winds. Narsarsuaq Airport only operates in the daylight as pilots face visibility issues from the multiple volcanoes that erupt on occasion.

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Ronald Raegan National Airport - Washington D.C., USA

Serving the Washington, D.C., area, the Ronald Raegan National Airport is located five miles from the city and is the closest to the capital. However, it is still one of the most dangerous international airports in the world. Pilots face no-fly zones throughout the city, making it difficult to land safely.

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Planes are instructed to avoid airspace locations above certain government buildings, military bases, and landmarks such as the Washington Monument, the Pentagon, and the White House. Planes are instructed to make extremely sharp turns near the Potomac River to line up with the runway.

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Ice Runway - Antarctica

The name really says it all. The Ice Runway in Antarctica was built for the US Antarctic Program and gives pilots virtually no wiggle room when it comes to successful takeoff and landings! Built on an entirely snow and ice-covered surface, the runway is built to operate until early December of each year.

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Pilots face the challenge of landing on an ice-covered surface, but more challenging is the airplane's weight, which can cause the ice underneath it to sink. The Ice Runway has a laser light installed on the plane that measures the settlement rate and instructs the aircraft to move safely if the 10-inch red line is reached.

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St. Helena, British Overseas Territory of Saint Helena

Fasten those seatbelts everyone! The St. Helena airport was initially said to be the "world's most useless" airport due to the intense gusts of wind on the cliffside that make it difficult and dangerous to land. Passengers are often in for a bumpy ride, and faced with complicated weather scenarios.

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St. Helena is operating at a category C level, meaning that pilots have to receive a special training in order to land at the airport. After the international hub opened in 2015, it took two years until commercial operations were allowed to take off and land due to the hazardous weather and pilot training.

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Innsbruck Airport - Innsbruck, Austria

Located about 2.5 miles away from the center of Innsbruck is the international airport in Innsbruck, locally known as Kranebitten Airport. For visitors, Innisbruck is a top destination for travelers worldwide looking to indulge in winter sports, but getting there can be a little tricky!

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Situated in Austria's western state of Tyrol, Innsbruck's weather conditions make it difficult for pilots to navigate landing and takeoff safely. Aircraft's deal with significant wind gusts and currents from the Alps, which in return has limited the types of planes that are allowed to operate at the airport.

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Pulau Tioman Airport - Pahang, Malaysia

Only experienced pilots are prohibited from landing at the Pulau Tioman Airport, as landing has proven to be tricky and, therefore, extremely technical. The airport is located on the gorgeous Tioman Island in Pahang, Malaysia, which is home to part of the volcanic islands that create the Pahang Marine Park.

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Landing at this location can be a terrifying experience for pilots as they have to fly straight onto a mountain and make a sharp 90-degree turn in order to properly line up with the runway. The airstrip has a steep cliff at the end that falls directly into the waters, so planes can only take off and land in one direction.

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Shimla Airport - Jubbarhatti, India

For those with altitude sickness, you might want to cross this one off your list! Sitting at 5,072 feet above sea level, the Shimla Airport has often been described as one of the most dangerous airports in India and the world. Besides its insane high altitude levels, the Shimla Airport has a few more risky factors going for them.

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To start, Shimla faces heavy rains that occur year-round, causing aircraft to skid or miss the runway completely, on top of their geographical location nestled between steep mountain ranges. Not to mention, Shimla Airport is home to mostly domestic flights, as their 3,940-foot-long runway doesn't allow for larger aircraft!

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Leh Airport - Ladakh, India

Flying into Leh Airport is one of the most beautiful landings for passengers, but the combination of high elevation and mountainous terrain makes it difficult for pilots when it comes to landing. To start, the airport is one of the highest in the world, sitting at 10,682 feet above sea level!

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As it has been dubbed one of the world's most dangerous airports due to its hazardous weather situation, pilots landing at the Leh Airport receive special training. Larger aircrafts are not allowed, and all flights are scheduled in the morning to avoid the strong gust of winds.

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Catalina Airport - Catalina, USA

Hold on tight; this one calls for a bumpy ride! Catalina is known for its incredible beauty, diverse wildlife, dive sites, and more, but getting there could be tough. The Catalina Airport, nicknamed 'The Airport in the Sky' due to its high altitude of 1602 feet, is considered one of the most terrifying airports due to its....

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Bumpy runway! Because of the heavy rainfall, the airport's runway is covered in soft spots, asphalt, and potholes, making it a rather bumpy ride for takeoff and landing. Additionally, the airport's runway is raised in the middle and drops on either side, making visibility difficult for pilots on both sides of the runway.

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