Airports are associated with long-awaited journeys, business trips and of course with the expression of the most genuine emotions. If you ever feel that true love is a myth, just go to the arrival area of a big international airport and see the emotions people express when they see their loved ones after they've been away for a while. Tears of joy falling from their eyes, happy smiles overflowing with sincere mirth and the warmth of the long-awaited hug will surely melt your heart.
Airports are always full of life and emotions and they are meant to be this way. Open every single day of the year, they are always busy serving us. People keep running, arrival boards keep updating, baggage counsels keep turning and trolleys keep rolling as we wait to get our boarding tickets or rush to our gateways. You can smell the scent of expensive perfume in the air, everything is polished and you can feel the promise and excitement of overseas travel and long-anticipated holidays.
The feelings you get from being in an abandoned airport bear no promise of an exciting journey. On the contrary, they induce the feeling of emptiness and maybe, sometimes the glory of the long forgotten days. Business turns to desolation and glamour gets ghostly. Nevertheless, abandoned airports have their own charm which attracts urban explorers.
We will now take a look at 15 haunting abandoned airports and also at 10 airports which impress us with their strangeness and uniqueness.
25 Deserted: Yasser Arafat International Airport, Gaza, Palestine
This airport was opened in Gaza in 1998 after the peace deal between the US and Palestina. It was an important moment for the people of Palestine, full of hope and goodwill. Most of them haven't seen big runways and flights of majestic airplanes and it was a huge event for them. This airport with golden domes and mosaic was designed by Moroccan architects and visited by President Bill Clinton who declared it opened.
Unfortunately, because of the conflict with Israel, the airport was bombed in 2001 and its runways were teared up by bulldozers. Not it stands empty and only a couple of remaining golden domes remind us about its past glory.
24 Deserted: Jaisalmer Airport, India
To bad that this airport is defunct because Jaisalmer (aka the Golden City) is an amazingly beautiful city in Rajasthan, India. It's a UNESCO World Heritage object and has many incredible architectural wonders. However, it can't be reached by airplane.
The airport was built in 2013 to give the travelers an opportunity to easily reach the city. What seemed to be a good idea turned into a waste of money, because no commercial airlines were interested in this route which left the airport stand empty.
There were rumors that the airport will be reopened soon, but it never happened. From 2017 it's functioning as a civil enclave on an Indian Air Force base.
23 Is Somehow Running: Gisborne Airport, New Zealand
There are airports which were left abandoned for different reasons and there are airports which are somehow functioning, but if you take a closer look at them it gets really difficult to understand why. One of such airports is Gisborne Airport on the North Island of New Zealand. It would be fair enough to say that it's atypical, but if you ask me, I would say that much stronger words can be used to describe it.
How would you describe an airport which the main runway is intersected by a railway line? It's not a joke. Sometimes airplanes need to wait until the train passes. Needless to say, that such a bizarre place needs outstanding attention from traffic controllers.
22 Deserted: Johnston Atoll Airport, USA
Now let's take a look at one of the most historic abandoned airports in the world which are Johnston Atoll. This is a small airport situated in the Pacific Ocean, several hundred miles south of Hawaii.
In the 20th century, it was a US military base, which had an underground hospital and housed 400 men. During the Second World War, it was attacked by Japanese and ruined, but the airport was officially closed only in 2005. It would be cool to feel the spirit of this unique place, but unfortunately, its location makes it difficult to get there.
21 Deserted: Nicosia Airport, Cyprus
Cyprus is one of the most popular holiday islands in Europe and Nicosia is its capital. Knowing this you would probably expect a busy and beautiful airport standing somewhere near the city. While being quite logical this assumption is false. Since Turkish troops invaded the island in 1974 the airport stands deserted.
Now the northern part of the island is occupied by the Turkish people and the southern part is occupied by the Greek community. Both parts of the island have their own airport and the Nicosia Airport remains an empty building in the United Nations buffer zone which divides two communities.
20 Is Somehow Running: Courchevel Airport, France
Courchevel is an outstanding and luxurious ski resort town where you can spend a great time if you like winter sports. But it's a destination for the brave ones because if you want to get there by plane you need to brace yourself. The airport is located 1,828 meters above the sea level on a slope in French Alps. If you take a look at it, you can easily understand why many people start praying when they're landing or taking off. The runway, which rises uphill and suddenly dips downhill is not your usual big airport runway.
An interesting fact about this airport is that it has made its appearance in "Tomorrow Never Dies" James Bond movie.
19 Deserted: Berlin Tempelhof Airport, Germany
Berlin Tempelhof Airport was an iconic airport and one of the biggest buildings in the world in the past century. It started to function in the 1920s and was serving the regular flights for almost a century until it ceased all activity in 2008.
You can still hear the echoes of glorious past in the abandoned building, but the people of Berlin love this place, not for the deserted premises, but because the airport's territory became one of the people's favorite municipal parks.
Nowadays, you can see kites in the sky instead of airplanes and fashion shows on former runways.
18 Deserted: Hellinikon Airport, Greece
Hellinikon served as the main airport of Athens, Greece for sixty years. At the beginning of the new millennium, a new airport was built before the Athens Olympics. During the Olympics, Hellinikon was partly used for the conduction of different Olympic sports activities and after the games were over, there were plans to turn it into a park.
Unfortunately, financial crises hit Greece and this project was put on hold. Now Hellinikon Airport stands frozen in time with an escalator packed with arch files and departure board showing a Paris flight which happened a long time ago.
Today, the airport serves as a refugee camp but there are plans to turn it into a luxury resort.
17 Is Somehow Running: Princess Juliana International Airport, Eastern Caribbean
I would be surprised if you have never seen a photo of a bizarre beach the tranquility of which is being regularly interrupted by the airplanes which fly so low, that it seems they can scratch beachgoers heads.
Actually, it's Princess Juliana International Airport which is located in the Eastern Caribbean. When airplanes land there they fly very close to sunbathers who enjoy turquoise waters of Maho Beach, which looks really scary and confusing.
Nevertheless, the airport is running smoothly and handles millions of passengers every year.
16 Deserted: Kai Tak Airport, Hong Kong
Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong was once one of the most famous airports in the world. Unlike Changi Airport in Singapore, which is famous for its technological marvels and incredible facilities, Kai Tak Airport was famous for being dangerous. As you can see in the photo above, the pilots had to be extremely attentive and skillful to land a plane in a place like this. This airport was stressful for both pilots who needed to land very accurately between high-rise buildings and residents who suffered from noise pollution.
In 1998 it was finally closed for the reason of being too dangerous. Today it welcomes tourists as a cruise ship terminal.
15 Deserted: Don Quijote Airport, Spain
Don Quijote Airport was once known as 'South Madrid Airport', which was quite misleading because it was located 200km away from Madrid. The idea behind such name was that the airport will be linked to a high-speed railway which will take travelers to Madrid in just 50 minutes.
As it often happens, the things didn't go as planned and the original plan was never realized. Although, 1 billion euros was invested in the construction of the airport in 2010, due to financial difficulties the works stopped two years later.
14 Is Somehow Running: Madeira International Airport, Portugal
After looking at the photo of Madeira International Airport you can easily understand why pilots need to undergo special training before they can land there. It's considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world (ranked as the 9th most dangerous airport by the History Chanel program Most Extreme Airports) because of runway construction and location.
While being a perilous airport, it's the fourth busiest airport in Portugal. Madeira is one of Portugal's famous leisure destinations, that's why many people visit it even though it looks blood-chilling.
13 Deserted: Stapleton International Airport, USA
Stapleton International Airport was Denver's primary airport for almost seven centuries. At different times it served as a hub for Trans World Airlines, Continental Airlines, People Express, Western Airlines, Frontier Airlines, and United Airlines.
Closer to the end of the 20th century Stapleton Airport was decommissioned and replaced by Denver Airport. The tower, which was a symbol of the airport, was transformed into an entertainment site which combines the stunning views of Denver, karaoke and dinner-style food. Today, the renovated Stapleton Tower is opened for business and waits for the new life to come into it.
12 Is Somehow Running: Giblartar Airport
Remember the Gisborne Airport on the North Island of New Zealand which is crossed by the railway? Surprisingly this case is not unique, because the runway of Gibraltar International Airport is intersected by the Winston Churchill Avenue and outstanding coordination efforts are necessary to make it all run smoothly.
Every time the plane lands or departs the road is closed for automobiles. No wonder that this airport was also included in History Chanel program Most Extreme Airports. Interestingly that it took the fifth position, while Madeira Airport in Portugal ranked nine. In addition to the intersection with a big road, the airport is also exposed to strong winds which make the landings in winter very uncomfortable.
11 Deserted: Aeroplane Graveyard at Lanseria Airport, Africa
Unfortunately, the Lanseria Airport graveyard isn't opened to the public and you will need to apply special efforts to visit it. In case you don't think that you will ever get there, this article provides you with a great opportunity to find out more about it.
Whether you know anything about aviation or not, that's a very cool place to be, because it's a rare spot where you can actually spend some time inside an old Boeing 727 which is the largest plane on the graveyard. Being there you start to think how many countries this plane visited and how many miles it flew to end its journey on an airplane graveyard in Africa. Aside from Boeing 727, there are a lot of smaller planes there which you can take a look at. A very unusual place and a perfect spot for taking photos.
10 Is Somehow Running: Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport, Saba Island in the Caribbean
The entire population of the island was attending the first airplane landing on the island on the 9th of February in 1959. After the first landing, there were no landings on the island for several years, however, very soon people realized that they really need a normal, functioning airport. Four years after it another landing on a newly asphalted runway was made.
In 1998 the airport's terminal building was shattered by Hurricane Georges and it took 4 years to reconstruct it. You can find the propeller from the aircraft which landed the island first in 1959 in the newly reconstructed building.
As you can see from the photo it also takes a lot of craft to land in this place.
9 Deserted: W.H. Bramble Airport, Montserrat, Caribbean
Another airport in the Carribean which is worth our attention is W.H. Bramble Airport of Montserrat island. The powerful volcanic eruption has devastated this island between 1995 and 1997. It completely shattered the capital of the island and destroyed the airport. What was once a welcoming point for happy travelers who came to see the tropical paradise, turned into a deserted wasteland? Airport turned into a metal shell surrounded by volcanic rock and rubble.
In 2005 the new airport was built on the island to recover the tourism industry, but W.H. Bramble Airport still stands trapped in volcanic rock.
8 Deserted: Floyd Bennett Field, New York, USA
By looking at this photo, can you tell that Floyd Bennett Field was New York's first ever municipal airport? Of course, everything that shines today can easily fade to black tomorrow. Such is life. Still, sometimes it's difficult to accept it, especially when you see how glory can turn to dust in a blink of an eye.
Floyd Bennett Field was opened in 1931 and it became home to many legendary feats in the early history of aviation, including the achievements of Amelia Earhart and Howard Hughes. The airport was deactivated in 1971 and since that time it has become a mecca for urban explorers. I recommend you to see more photos of this abandoned airport and try to imagine how it looked in the old times.
7 Is Somehow Running: Kansai International Airport, Japan
Another notable air harbor which should be mentioned in this article is Kansai Airport in Japan. It was constructed on an artificial island three miles off the Osaka's coast and it took seven years and $20 billion to erect it.
One spectacular thing about Kansai International Airport is that it can be seen from space. Try to travel through this airport next time you go to Japan.
6 Deserted: Croydon Airport, UK
Croydon Airport or London Airport was an important UK airport in the first half of the 20th century. Subsequent to its launch, soon after the First World War, it quickly became the main airport in the United Kingdom. However, after the end of the Second World War, it was replaced by London Heathrow Airport, Northolt Aerodrome and Gatwick Airport.
Croydon's Airport area is now being used as a parkland, playing fields and there is also a Roundshaw residential estate located on the former airport's territory. To mark the 50th anniversary of Croydon's Airport closing in 2009, 11 light aircraft staged a flypast.
5 Is Somehow Running: Barra Airport, Scotland
The peculiarity of this airport is that when the tide comes in at Barra, you can't land because the runway simply disappears in water. Another unusual thing is that there is no runway in Barra Airport and the aircrafts land on the beach. Despite this fact, the airport handles more than 1000 departing and incoming flights each year and has a modern control tower. On the other hand, landing on the sand is not a good thing for airplanes because salt and sand eat up the bearings and can jam moving parts of the aircraft.
4 Deserted: Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, USA
An excellent place for Instagram lovers. Just look at how organized these old airplanes stand there!
Davis–Monthan Air Force Base is located 8 kilometers southeast of downtown Tucson, Arizona. The dry climate of Tucson city and alkali soil made it a perfect place to store and preserve the old aircraft. From 1925 to 1945 it was an active air force base, but after the end of the Second World War it became a place to store military aircraft and it stills continues to fulfill this mission today. With the passage of time, it has become the largest aircraft cemetery in the world. Sounds like a good reason to visit it, doesn't it?
3 Is Somehow Running: Paro Airport, Bhutan
As you can guess, landing in Paro Airport in Bhutan also requires special skills from pilots and some sedative for the passengers to steady their nerves. This little airport nestled between the majestic Himalayan mountains is considered by some to be the most dangerous in the world. While we will soon take a look at the airport that's without a doubt the most dangerous in the world, Paro Airport surely deserves to be in the top 3 most extreme airports of our planet.
Just imagine, only eight pilots in the world are qualified to land there. Buddha Air is the only one airline which is allowed to use this airport and it has one of the shortest runways in the world.
Still want to fly there?
2 Deserted: RAF Binbrook, UK
We've already taken a look at Croydon Airport in the UK which was abandoned after the Second World War. Now let's point our attention to RAF Binbrook, another spectacular airport in the UK which stays empty. Located near Brookenby in Lincolnshire it was used by the Air Force during the Second World War and until the 1980s. RAF Binbrook was one of the locations for 1990 flick Memphis Belle and it now serves as a great place to take photos of the old aircraft for those fortunate enough to get inside.
1 Is Somehow Running: Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Nepal
The gateway to Mount Everest is also home to the world's most dangerous airport. Tenzing-Hillary airport named after the first people who climbed Mount Everest is a tiny, treacherous 500 meters long runway perched on a steep cliff. There was an accident in October 2008 which took lives of 18 people and earned this place a name of the world's most dangerous airport.
The airport has no radar system because of financial problems. It makes air traffic controllers rely on outdated voice communication systems which aren't used in civilized countries anymore.
One surely needs a lot of skills and a God's blessing before using Tenzing-Hilary Airport.
Would you dare to land there?