Barra Airport, Scotland - the world's only beach runway!


Barra Airport, Scotland - the world's only beach runway!

Barra Airport is a short-runway beach landing strip and airport in the shallow bay of Traigh Mhòr, on the island of Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The airport is believed to be the only one in the world where scheduled flights use a tidal beach as the runway.

Its only destination is Glasgow, the flight to which takes 1 hour and ten minutes.

Traigh Mhor was mainly famous for its cockles, until aircraft started to use the beach in June 1933. Scheduled air services to and from Barra Airport began in 1936, providing a lifeline link to the remote island.

The beach is set out with three runways, marked by wooden poles at their ends. This allows the Twin Otter planes of operator Loganair to generally land into the wind, as is desirable. At high tide, the runways are underwater, so flight times vary with the tide. Emergency flights occasionally operate at night from the airport, with vehicle headlights used to indicate the centreline of the runway, and reflective strips laid on the beach.

There is a terminal building and control tower on the permanent dry land up from the beach.

Around 8,500 passengers per year use the airport, with more than 1,400 aircraft movements per year. Barra Airport is operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL), a public corporation which in total operates 11 airports at remote locations throughout Scotland as a social mission.

Visitors are able to watch the flights land on the beach - and there is a cafe from which to enjoy the spectacle.

Further reading

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