Because runways are in constant demand due to the increase in travel, airports sometimes have to get creative with how they extend and manage aircraft landings. Here are six unique runways from around the world.
International Airport in Male, Maldives
The International Airport in Male, Maldives (also known as Ibrahim Nasir International Airport), has four water runways measuring 60 meters wide and 1,190, 1,100, 1,000 and 800 meters long, respectively.
Gibraltar International Airport
The runway at the Gibraltar International Airport is owned by the U.K. Defense Ministry and used by the Royal Air Force. The runway intersects with Winston Churchill Avenue (the main road heading to the land border with Spain) and has to be closed every time an aircraft lands or departs.
Princess Juliana Airport, Saint Martin
Arriving aircraft at Princess Juliana Airport, Saint Martin, fly over Maho Beach before landing on its runway. To meet changing international local regulations, a 150-meter safety extension was developed.
As air traffic to Madeira increased, the airport had to extend its runway by 200 meters in 2000. It did so by building a platform partly over the ocean supported by 180 columns.
McMurdo Ice Runway
The “Ice Runway” is the primary runway for the U.S. Antarctic Program during the summer and is capable of handling wheeled aircraft. The runway is constructed at the start of the season and used until the sea ice begins to break up (early December).
Paro International Airport
Drukair operates out of Bhutan's Paro International Airport, where the approach and landing is extremely challenging due to the surrounding high mountains. Drukair and Bhutan Airlines can operate out of the airport only under visual flight rules. The weather causes additional strains; high winds periodically shut down the airport. Watch AW&ST's video of an approach to the airport and AW&ST's report on Drukair and its operationsfrom Paro International Airport.