Top 10 Most Dangerous Airports In Europe 2023

Aviation is one of the most regulated industries in the world. The most dangerous airports in Europe have therefore come under a lot of scrutinies because they are more likely to produce accidents and fatalities. Taking off and landing at these airports, therefore, require special knowledge of the terrain; a thing that is only obtainable when the Pilot is extremely familiar with the airports in question.

Of the 800 or so airports in Europe, these are some of the scariest and most difficult; perhaps if circumstances were different they would not be in use at all. These airports are so risky that even in cases of life-threatening emergencies pilots are not advised to land their aircraft unless they are familiar with the airports.

Any pilot who attempts a landing at any of these airports without first passing through the special training processes, those so at great risk to himself, his crew, and passengers, as well as the other people present at the airport.

Top 10 Most Dangerous Airports In Europe

1. Skiathos Airport

Located in Greece

The Greek island of Skiathos offers a dangerously thrilling experience at its airport. The thrill is so real; it is quite rewarding to successfully navigate this airport, although one small mistake could prove very costly. This is because the runway is ridiculously short, and is sandwiched between a beach at one end and a public road at the other.

As you may already know, Greece has several islands, and many of them have rocky uneven terrain. This makes the job of building airport runways particularly difficult because there is just not enough even ground on which to build them. Therefore, most airports on the Greek islands are short, narrow, and dangerous- non more so than the one at Skiathos Airport.

From the nearby Skiathos Beach tourists and holidaymakers can watch planes land and take off; it is quite a noisy affair, but many people apparently like it. Interestingly enough many tourists come to Skiathos for their holidays, using this very airport, and have no idea how dangerous it is. The runway measures about 5,341 feet, and that is just enough for a fully-loaded jet.

To increase their chances of successfully taking off, most of the jets take off with near empty tanks. They refuel at the Airport in Thessaloniki. They even have special tricks with which they bring the planes to a stop when landing, so they don’t run out of runway.

2. Barra Airport Runway

Located in Scotland

The Scottish island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, is a particularly interesting place indeed. This is where you find an airport that appears and disappears with the tide, as it is built right on the beach. That means it can only be used at low tide, and when evening comes there is a real possibility of being stranded there until the tide returns in its favor. In order to avoid disaster, it is very common to see pilots first fly around the airport to find out the exact level of the tide, before actually landing their planes.

Of course, this is not really a commercial airport; hardly any serious airport can operate on a part-time basis. However, the beach is a very popular one; people come in from all over Europe and America to spend time here, and to observe the famous relationship between the beach and the airport.  Scottish airline Loganair is the main user of this airstrip; it brings in passengers mostly from Glasgow.

The fact that this airport is mostly used by Loganair greatly reduces the danger; the pilots are very familiar with the terrain, and so they know exactly how to approach takeoffs and landings. Any pilots unfamiliar with this airstrip can quickly land in trouble.

3. Innsbruck Airport

Located in Austria

Imagine having to land a plane, but you are circling around the tall peaks of the Austrian Alps. Right in the middle of those mountains, you find the runway in a deep valley. You have to dive your plane in at a steep angle to that you get down quickly enough to land and stop your plane before running out of runway. That is the unique experience of Innsbruck Airport.

It is more than just an experience actually; Innsbruck is one of the most dangerous airports in Europe because if a pilot makes a mistake in calculating his approach angle, then he ends up crashing his plane and possibly killing everyone on board.

To avoid disaster, only Captains who are familiar with the terrain are allowed to land their planes there. Remember that this is a unique environment; a disaster could trigger an avalanche in the snow-covered mountains, and this is also a famous ski resort.

4. Gibraltar Airport

Located in Gibraltar

Gibraltar Airport crosses the main road in and out of the Territory. That is either a very intelligent design, or a sheer act of madness. Just imagine; traffic is stopped around 15 times per day to allow air-crafts to land and take-off. Just imagine the chaos if a large plane has to make an emergency landing on this strip, and there is traffic on it; that could mean going through several vehicles, and possibly causing several fatalities in the process.

Aside from the hazard posed by the highway, there are several other problems such as the turbulent wind caused by the famous Rock of Gibraltar. This can make landing planes on this airstrip a particularly risky affair, and can easily result in fatalities.

5. Svalbard Airport

Location: Svalbard, Norway

Svalbard Airport in Norway is an engineering marvel. However, if you don’t know what you are doing you can quite easily end up killing yourself and your passengers on this airstrip. Svalbard Airport’s runway is built on permafrost and insulated against the ground to prevent melting when the weather gets warm during summer.

But it is not the runway that is the danger; it is the general location of the airport; this is the world’s northernmost airport with regularly scheduled flights. At this location, the climate is unforgiving. The winds can arise suddenly and can blow a plane off its course, and send it crashing into the ice somewhere in the distance.

This can be quite challenging for even established captains; which is why anyone without the prerequisite experience will most likely be refused permission to land here.

6. Madeira Airport

Located in Santa Cruz, Madeira, Portugal

Madeira Airport, also known as Cristiano Ronaldo airport, which some people still call Funchal Airport is a precarious place to land a plane. The trouble is that the airport runway is very narrow, and the place is quite windy.

The approach to this airport is a difficult matter; something that tests even experienced captains. As a matter of fact, one needs some special training in order to be given permission to land here. Make no mistake about it; this is not a place for emergency landings; any unfamiliar pilot is at risk of disaster should he attempt to land here.

7.  Akureyri Airport

Located in Akureyri, Iceland

Akuyeri Airport, located in Akuyeri, Iceland already has quite a reputation as one of the most dangerous airports in Europe. The major thing about this airport is that it is located in a valley, and surround by high ground. That means the pilot must make a climb, and then do a steep decline, all while on the turn. To make things even more difficult, the runway is quite narrow.

This is just not the place for trainee pilots; only captains with training and extensive knowledge of the terrain, who have undergone special training are allowed to land their planes here.

8.  Courchevel Airport

Located in Courchevel, France

The Courchevel Airport in France is quite a difficult place to earn your stripes as a pilot. The thing about this airport is that it has an unusually elevated runway, which is about 2,010 meters. Only planes that meet a specific specification are allowed to land here, and even the pilots must undergo special training which means hours on flight simulators before they can land their air-crafts at this airport.

9.  Heathrow Airport

Located in England

Heathrow airport, in Landford, United Kingdom, is so busy that many people forget how dangerous it truly is. Interestingly one thing that makes it so dangerous is the very fact that it is so busy. Pilots must therefore navigate through air and ground traffic so as not to cause a disaster.

Aside from being able to navigate through the air traffic; with all the planes taking off and landing, the captain must also be able to keep his calm, and follow instructions in the case of unplanned occurrences.

Heathrow Airport is reserved for captains with stripes to show their years of flying.

10. London City Airport

Located In England

London City Airport, which is located in London, United Kingdom is another airport that has become quite risky indeed. The problem is that London city is undergoing a very rapid phase of development; it has become a prime area for real estate companies. That means skyscrapers and other tall buildings are going up at an alarming rate.

That makes London City Airport almost as dangerous as Innsbruck because the pilot has to first climb so as to avoid all the skyscrapers, before descending steeply in order to meet the runway. Any pilot who doesn’t know what he is doing can quite certainly crash his plane, which is why only specific planes are allowed to land, and the pilots must have received a good amount of training.

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Aviation is one of the safest places in the form of transportation in the World. However, some airports in Europe pose serious dangerous conditions for both the pilots and the passengers. 

The most dangerous airports in Europe present enormous challenges that cause the field of aviation to march forward. To meet these challenges authorities have to employ researchers to come up with solutions.

Furthermore, pilots who have surmounted the challenges presented by these airports have demonstrated exceptional knowledge of aviation, and can therefore pass on the knowledge they have gained, therefore improving capacity in the aviation industry.