Top 10 scenic airport approaches

1. Sion airport


Sion airport approach

Nestled in the heart of the Alps, the approach to Sion airport takes you down the Rhone valley. With the high mountain terrain to negotiate your pilot will be radar vectored by Swiss military air traffic control to the initial approach point, after which the navigation is simple: fly straight down the valley with the cliffs above you, circle the town, avoid the hospital for a perfect touchdown at Europe’s most stunning airport! Get an instant private jet charter price estimate to Sion.

2. St Maarten – Princess Juliana airport

St Maarten Princess Juliana

The Princess Juliana airport on the island of St Maarten (Saint Martin) is exceptionally close to the beach, with aircraft literally skimming over the heads of holidaymakers. At the end of the runway is the sunset bar area – the ultimate planespotter’s viewing spot. Riding the fence is a local ritual: thrillseekers sit on the fence and hang on while jet blast blows at them as a 747 takes off. Get an instant private jet cost estimate to St Maarten.

3. St Barts airport

St Barts airport approach

The Caribbean island of St Barts is just a few minutes connecting flight from Princess Juliana on St Maarten (above) – with a very short runway, it does not cater to international flights. The approach is thrilling: With very tight angles, hills, unusual wind conditions and the short runway to negotiate, there’s little margin for error and only the most qualified and highly-trained pilots can land there. Get an instant private charter cost estimate to St Barts.

4. Gibraltar airport

Gibtaltar airport runway

Gibraltar airport is owned by the Ministry of Defence for use by the Royal Air Force as RAF Gibraltar. Civilian operators also use the airport for flights to the UK and Spain. The airport has the distinction of being the closest airport to the city that it serves, being only 500 metres from Gibraltar’s city centre and the runway is actually intersected by a road, Winston Churchill Avenue (the main road heading towards the land border with Spain) which consequently has to be closed every time a plane lands or departs. The rock of Gibraltar looms large on the stunning approach, causing unusual wind patterns and turbulence. Get an instant private jet charter cost estimate to Gibraltar.

5. St Gallen-Altenrhein airport

St Gallen-Altenrhein airport

St Gallen-Altenrhein has an idyllic setting between Lake Constance and the smoothly ascending alpine foot hills of the Appenzell region in Switzerland. It was built in 1927-1928 by pumping mud from nearby Lake Constance (Bodensee) onto a swampy area close to the shore line. Almost in the middle of this area a turf runway was built, laterally marked on both sides by a ditch which was filled up with yellow gravel from the Jura mountain range on the border with France. Get an instant private jet charter price estimate to St Gallen.

6. Madeira Funchal airport

Madeira Funchal airport

The runway at the island of Madeira’s Funchal airport (also known as Santa Catarina) is bordered by water on one side and hills on the other and was rebuilt in 2000 to include a stunning bridge-like extension with 180 supporting pillars over the Atlantic, providing both a dramatic view and additional car parking (underneath!). Before the rebuilding work, Madeira’s airport was once infamous for its short runway which, surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, made it a tricky landing for even the most experienced of pilots. Get an instant private jet charter cost estimate to Madeira Funchal.
7. London City airport

London City airport approach

As the closest airport to London’s city centre, the approach to London City airport provides a highly scenic approach over world-famous London landmarks. Air Traffic Control will route you over the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, before sliding you down the side of Canary Wharf with amazing views of the O2 music venue. The approach is unique as the glide path is set at stomach-churning 5.8 degrees as opposed to the usual 3, making for a fairground ride-like buzz. The runway is described by pilots as an ‘aircraft carrier’: relatively short and surrounded by the River Thames. On the ground no other airport in Europe handles its business aviation passengers as quickly and smoothly. Get an instant private jet charter price estimate to London City airport.

8. Lukla airport

Lukla airport runway

Arriving at Lukla airport in Nepal is an exhilarating experience, involving a 10-minute approach down a steep-sided valley followed by a sharp left-hand turn and an uphill landing. A sudden stop is very necessary: With a sheer rock face of hundred metres high at the end of the runway, there is no margin for error. Sirens inform people for miles around when a plane is coming in to land. Lukla airport was built by Sherpas in the 1960s, under instruction from Sir Edmund Hillary, and is the place that most people start their Mount Everest trek. Get an instant private charter estimate to Lukla.

9. Las Vegas McCarran airport

Las Vegas McCarran airport

The aerial approach to Las Vegas is a truly spectacular one, offering the contrast of desert with a sudden metropolis, unrivalled for sheer size and glamour – even in daylight (though it’s even more dramatic at night). From the left-hand side of the plane, there are views of the world-famous Strip stretching from the Stratosphere at one end to Mandalay Bay at the other. Red Rock canyon is another highlight, just to the West on the approach. Get an instant private jet charter estimate to Las Vegas.

10. Barra airport

The runway and terminal buildings at Barra airport

Barra Airport is the only airport in the world where scheduled aircraft land on a beach. The airport is situated on the wide beach of Traigh Mhor, on tiny Barra island in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.There are a choice of three runways at Barra – so that the Twin Otter aircraft can always land into the wind. Flight times vary with the tide as the airport is literally washed away once a day. If you arrive in the  late afternoon on a gloomy day (or for emergency night flights) you may notice cars in the car park with their lights on. This provides pilots with added visibility, since the airport has no artificial lighting. Visitors and cockle-pickers share use of the beach, with signs asking them to observe the windsock to see if the airport is in operation. Get an instant private charter estimate to Barra.