Barra Airport flights halted - by high tides

A plane on Barra Airport's unique airstrip. Picture: Contributed
A plane on Barra Airport's unique airstrip. Picture: Contributed
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FLIGHTS to a remote island in the Outer Hebrides, which has the world’s only scheduled beach airport, have been delayed because of extraordinarily high tides.

Barra Airport’s main airstrip has been flooded by the incoming tide, which resulted in planes being forced to abort landings after flying from Glasgow. Pilots also delayed take-off from the mainland until the sea cleared the beach.

The flights operated by Loganair are now back to normal.

A company spokesman said: “In the past two weeks Barra and the surrounding experienced the lowest atmospheric pressure in more than 120 years.

“During this time tides were well above published predicted levels, which are used by Loganair to establish timetables for operating aircraft in and out of Barra.

“The conditions on Barra presented continuous challenges to our flight crews and in some cases, it was impossible - and ultimately unsafe - to adhere to scheduled services.

“Loganair made every effort to help passengers reach their destinations.”

Last year the airport was named as one of the most scenic landing destinations in the world.

Barra Airport was runner-up in a poll of flyers, travel and aviation experts conducted by the private jet booking service Private Fly.

Barra has the only scheduled air services in the world that lands on a beach.

The airstrip is only usable at low tide and was made famous in the film Staggered starring Martin Clunes. It is also near the former home of Whisky Galore author Sir Compton Mackenzie.

Pilot Fly asked experts and travel fans across the world for their most scenic airport landings in its annual survey.

The Hebridean island airport received the second highest number of votes of any global landing, beaten only by St Maarten Princess Juliana International Airport in the Caribbean.

But among the nine other airports, Barra beat were Los Angeles, Bhutan, Las Vegas, London City Airport and Nice.

Michael Galbraith, Station Manager at Barra Airport said: “Barra is famed for its spectacular scenery and its unique beach landing strip, giving passengers a spectacular view of our beautiful island. Our beach surface actually gives passengers a much softer landing experience in comparison to tarmac which some visitors are pleasantly surprised by.”

The beach on the north coast of Barra was officially recognised as an airfield in 1936. A regular scheduled service ran from Barra to Glasgow in 1936 for £4 per seat.

In 1994 Highland and Islands Airports Limited took over the running of the airport.

The airport has three runways marked by wooden poles on the sands. Aircraft land into the wind - and when the tide is out.