Queenstown Airport makes 'thrilling' list

France's Courchevel Airport has a short 525-metre runway and a steep incline (which slows planes down on landing and speeds them up on takeoff). Photo / Creative Commons image by Hugues Mitton
France's Courchevel Airport has a short 525-metre runway and a steep incline (which slows planes down on landing and speeds them up on takeoff). Photo / Creative Commons image by Hugues Mitton

White-knuckled passengers flying into Queenstown Airport can be forgiven for having a few butterflies in the stomach - it's been voted one of the 10 most thrilling airports in the world for arrivals and departures.

The list was compiled by international travel website airfarewatchdog.com.

The experience of arriving at or departing from Queenstown Airport was described by the list's authors as a "real knee-knocker".

"On descent, passengers may feel a sudden drop in altitude caused by strong downdrafts," they wrote.

Other airports to make the list included Toncontin International Airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras - where planes must make a last-second 45-degree to line up the runway - and the Princess Juliana International Airport in St Maarten, where planes fly just metres over sunbathers.

Courchevel Airport in France, an alpine airport made famous in the Bond movie Tomorrow Never Dies, also made the list.

"Its runway is a short 1722 feet (525m) and has a steep incline (which slows planes down on landing and speeds them up on takeoff)," the list's authors wrote.

"As if that isn't enough to make your heart race, the airport sits at an altitude of 6588 feet (2008m)."

Another airport with a New Zealand connection to make the list was the Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal.

"This is 9000 feet (2743m) high in the Himalayas, and pilots have one shot to land, as the terrain rules out a fly-around," the list's authors wrote.

The airport was renamed in 2008 to honour New Zealand adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay's contribution to its construction.

The world's most thrilling airports

Barra Airport, Barra, Scotland
Catalina Airport, Avalon, California, USA
Courchevel Airport, Courchevel, France
Gustaf III Airport, St Jean, Saint Barthélemy
La Guardia Airport, New York City, New York, USA
Princess Juliana International Airport, Philipsburg, Saint Maarten
Queenstown Airport, Queenstown, New Zealand
Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Airport, Sitka, Alaska, USA
Tenzing-Hillary Airport, Lukla, Nepal
Toncontín International Airport, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

- NZPA, NZ HERALD STAFF

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