The centre of London might not fit most people’s definition of the word ‘beautiful’ but private jet hire firm, PrivateFly, has recognised London City Airport for having one of the most scenic approaches in the world. The Docklands site made seventh place out of ten airports in a list of “stunning and inspirational” airport approaches, one of only two hubs in the UK to make the grade.
Sion Airport, located in the Swiss Alps, came top of PrivateFly’s poll. The tiny hub is served by just one airline, the specialist skiing holiday firm, Snowjet, and is guarded by enormous mountains, making approaches particularly difficult for inexperienced pilots. PrivateFly’s advice for Sion-bound aviators is, “avoid the hospital.”
In second place, Princess Juliana Airport on the island of St. Martin is famous the world over for its unusual approach, which forces planes to cross the tourist hotspot, Maho Beach, at very low altitude. The airport is popular with local aviation enthusiasts, who can ‘ride the perimeter fence,’ essentially, hold on until they are thrown off by the engines of departing airliners.
Gustaf III Airport on Saint Barthélemy, in the Caribbean, came in third, whilst Gibraltar Airport was in fourth place. St Gallen-Altenrhein in Switzerland was placed fifth, with possibly the only runway in the world to have been built on a swamp. Sixth is the very impressive, Madeira Funchal, which has a runway suspended 70m above the Atlantic Ocean by 180 columns.
In seventh place is the ever-exotic hub, London City, which offers visitors views of the London Eye, Big Ben, and Canary Wharf. PrivateFly lauded City’s “fairground-like” approach – “the glide path is set at stomach-churning 5.8 degrees, as opposed to the usual three.”
Nepal’s Tenzing-Hillary Airport, created by Sir Edmund Hillary and the Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, was in eighth place, with a terrifying approach that involves sharp turns, long dives into rocky valleys, and an uphill landing. Ninth on PrivateFly’s list of airport approaches needs no introduction: Las Vegas, known worldwide as a luminous haven in the barren Nevada desert, and the setting for more than a few Hollywood movies.
Barra Airport on the Outer Hebrides was number ten, chosen for a rather odd characteristic – it disappears once a day. Barra sits on the beach, and flight times are organised around the movement of the tides. The hub also makes use of three runways, designed to alternate according to wind direction.
PrivateFly’s chief, Adam Twidell, said that the ten airports mentioned are a “reminder that a journey by air can be a life-enhancing experience.”