Barra named second most stunning airport in world
THE ICONIC beach landing strip on Barra has been named as the second most stunning airport approach in the world.
• Private air charter Private Fly compiled list of 32 unusual airport approaches around globe
• Barra airstrip only accessible at low tide
• Caribbean airport of St Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport beat Barra to first place
Private air charter Private Fly had compiled a list of 32 unusual airport approaches around the globe for travel fans and pilots to vote as the best to land on.
The tiny Barra airstrip in the Outer Hebrides, which is only accessible at low tide, was competing alongside airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol, Bermuda, Hong Kong, Cape Town and Rio de Janeiro.
The top ten was selected by a panel of high profile industry experts, with Barra being named number two, unfortunately dropping from top spot from 2012.
It was beaten by St Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport in the Caribbean, where planes fly over a clear blue sea and beach goers.
Michael Galbraith, station manager at Barra Airport said: “We are delighted that Barra has been voted one of the world’s most scenic airport landings.
“The poll has generated worldwide interest in Barra Airport, with enquiries from media crews as far afield as Brazil and South Korea.
“It’s a fantastic boost for the island community and for tourism. This kind of worldwide exposure is priceless.”
Adam Twidell, chief executive of PrivateFly.com and a member of the judging panel, added: “The top ten is an annual bucket list for air travel fans, giving a fascinating mix of global descents to fly before you die.
“From major city views such as London City and Los Angeles; to tiny remote airstrips such as Phinda in South Africa, where aircraft land in the middle of a game reserve. Barra is unique, as the only tidal beach runway in the world and it’s no surprise that it has ranked highly once again.”
One voter commented, in support of Barra: “Seeing the whole island in all its beauty as you approach and the landing on the beach just puts the icing on the cake. I’ve flown here many times and it never fails to impress me.”
Barra Airport opened in 1936 and is a short runway airport situated in the bay of Traigh Mhor - Gaelic for ‘big beach’ - at the northern edge of the island of Barra.
The airport is served by Twin Otter aircraft and flight schedules are subject to tidal conditions – at high tide, the runway is under water.
The airport, situated in a wide shallow bay at the north tip of the islands, provides scheduled flights to Benbecula and Glasgow, operated by Scottish airline Loganair.
1200 flights a year
It handles around 1200 flights and 10,500 passengers a year.
Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na H-Eileanan An lar (Western Isles), is the party’s Westminster spokesman for transport, and, as a Barra resident, is possibly the airport’s most regular customer, flying in and out around 50 times a year.
He said: “It is an iconic airstrip, which deserves its status as one of the best in the world.
“The service is popular with tourists and I almost hesitate to plug Barra Airport due to the difficulty I will have in trying to get seats.”
Private Fly said of Barra: “The airport has a unique beach runway - the only one in the world for scheduled aircraft - with flight times varying according to the tide as the runway is literally washed away once a day.
“The beach is also open to foot visitors who must observe the windsock to see if the airport is in operation. One voter commented “Beautiful scenery and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to land on a beach”.
Barra Airport is operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, which owns most of the regional airports in mainland Scotland and the outlying islands.
The beach is set out with three runways in a triangle, marked by permanent wooden poles at their ends.
This allows the Twin Otters that serve the airport to almost always land into the wind.
Although the aerodrom is not licensed for night use, emergency flights occasionally operate at night from the airport, with vehicle lights used to illuminate the runway and reflective strips laid on to the beach.
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