Which Airports Have Beach Runways?

As explored in a recent article, most of the world’s airport runways are paved with concrete or asphalt.…

Which Airports Have Beach Runways?

As explored in a recent article, most of the world’s airport runways are paved with concrete or asphalt. However, there are certain exceptions to this trend. We have previously explored gravel and ice runways, but what about beaches? Let’s take a look at where passengers should be wary of sand in their shoes when boarding their flights.

A de Havilland DHC-6 ‘Twin Otter’ landing on the beach at Barra. Photo: Colin Moss via Flickr

Barra, Scotland

Arguably the most notable airport in the world to have a runway on a beach is Barra (BRR) in Scotland. While it is not unique in its runway composition, it is the only airport with a sandy landing strip that serves regularly scheduled commercial flights. Located at the northern tip of the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Loganair flies there from Glasgow.

The beach on which the airport’s three runways are situated is subjected to high and low tides at different times of the day. This limits the hours in which aircraft can safely utilize the sandy landing strips, which are laid out in a triangle, ranging from 680 to 846 meters long. Furthermore, planes cannot use the airport at night apart from in emergencies.

Barra Airport
High and low tides dictate barra’s operating times. Photo: Tom Parnell via Flickr

Loganair’s services between Barra and Glasgow take one hour and 15 minutes, and provide the island with a vital link to the Scottish mainland. Operated by 19-seat de Havilland DHC-6 ‘Twin Otter‘ aircraft, these flights generally serve the route two or three times a day.

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Copalis State, US

While Barra is the only beach-based airport that plays host to regularly scheduled commercial services, there is also such a facility for general aviation. Intrepid general aviators can find this facility on the Pacific Coast in the northwestern US state of Washington. Known as Copalis State Airport, this facility has no IATA or ICAO airport codes, and no tower.

Copalis State Airport
Copalis State Airport is on Washington’s Pacific Coast. Photo: Jelson25 via Wikimedia Commons

However, it does have an FAA LID (Local Identified) of S16. The state-owned airport contrasts to Barra in having just one runway. This sandy landing strip was 1,372 meters long, and has the headings 14/32. However, FAA data lists it as now being just 1,113 meters long.

According to the Washington State Department of Transportation, This shrinkage is the culmination of various geographical processes. These include river migration and coastal erosion. Much like Barra, aircraft can only use the airport at low tide.

Popular beaches for avgeeks

While these sandy landing strips are a real rarity, a slightly more common phenomenon is beaches situated at the end of runways. These are immensely popular among avgeeks, with many making journeys to such resorts to take the perfect photo.

Which Airports Have Beach Runways?
Aircraft pass very low over St Maarten’s Maho Beach: a planespotter’s paradise. Photo: Getty Images.

The most famous of these is St Maarten, in the Caribbean. Owing to the island’s links to France and the Netherlands, it has hosted iconic long-haul aircraft like the Boeing 747. As you can imagine, this makes for a spectacular sight when passing low over the beach. Skiathos Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport in Greece is a similar photographic hotspot for this reason, although its mile-long runway restricts the size of aircraft that can land there.

Have you ever used an airport with a beach runway? What other unusual surfaces have you landed on or taken off from? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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South American Expansion: Air Canada Tops Up Its Schedule

Air Canada is looking to increase its service to several key South American destinations. The carrier will add…

South American Expansion: Air Canada Tops Up Its Schedule

Air Canada is looking to increase its service to several key South American destinations. The carrier will add frequencies on routes to Sao Paulo and Bogota while resuming operations for several flights from Montreal. Let’s investigate further.

Air Canada will increase its connectivity in Latin America. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Air Canada’s plans

Due to the many travel restrictions in Canada and South America, Air Canada has slowly been restoring its pre-pandemic capacity. To put it in perspective, Air Canada’s transatlantic recovery has been better so far than the domestic, according to Mark Galardo, the airline’s senior vice president of Network Planning and Revenue Management.

As of October 2021, Air Canada is offering 332 flights to Latin America, according to Cirium. The carrier flies to Bogota, Cancun, Sao Paulo, Liberia, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, and San Jose. The two most important routes are Toronto-Mexico City and Toronto-Cancun, with a daily flight each.

But the airline is already planning to increase its connectivity to South America, according to a statement.

South American Expansion: Air Canada Tops Up Its Schedule
Air Canada will use its Airbus A330 fleet to connect with Colombia. Photo: Air Canada

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Plans in Brazil

On December 6, the Canadian flag carrier will increase its frequencies between Toronto and Brazil’s financial center of Sao Paulo. It will go from four flights per week to a daily service.

Then, on December 8, Air Canada aims to resume its service between Montreal and Sao Paulo. The carrier will offer four flights per week on a year-round basis.

Air Canada will use its flagship Boeing 787 Dreamliner on both routes.

Plans in Colombia

The airline is currently flying between Toronto and Bogota on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. It offers 765 seats per week to the Colombian capital city.

On November 7, Air Canada will increase to four flights per week. Then, on December 2, it will resume its service from Montreal to Bogota, all operated on an Airbus A330-300.

Additionally, flights to Bogota will allow customers to easily connect onward throughout Colombia and other South American destinations via Star Alliance partner Avianca, the airline said. Avianca will also launch a Bogota-Toronto flight in December.

South American Expansion: Air Canada Tops Up Its Schedule
Air Canada wants to relaunch its flights to Chile and Argentina. Photo: Air Canada

Chile and Argentina

Air Canada is already planning to resume operations both in Chile and Argentina.

The carrier could fly again between Toronto and Santiago de Chile in January 2022, with three weekly flights.

Regarding Buenos Aires, Argentina, Air Canada says it is committed to resuming the route. It will connect with the Argentinian city from Toronto or Montreal via Sao Paulo, Brazil. Nevertheless, the flights to Buenos Aires are still pending on government approval. The Argentinian government has announced plans to reopen to international tourists as of November 1.

Strong commitment in Latin America

Finally, Mark Galardo said in a statement,

“We are very excited to serve some of the largest cities in South America, offering our customers more travel options from our main hubs. By resuming services from Montreal and adding capacity from Toronto, Air Canada is demonstrating its strong commitment to the Brazilian, Argentinian, Colombian and Chilean markets.

“This increased presence will not only allow for greater leisure travel but will also help spur the economic recovery and facilitate business connections. Air Canada has a long-standing presence in Brazil, operating from Toronto for several decades, contributing to the strong business relationship between the two countries.”

Have you traveled on Air Canada to South America? How was your experience? Let us know in the comments below. 

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