Have you ever imagined driving your car on a runway? If you have, here is your chance!
Gibraltar International airport is well-known for its strange runway arrangement. Pilots all over the globe would love to get the opportunity to land on this weird runway. Here we are going through some breathtaking facts about this airport that is like no other.
Where is Gibraltar Airport Located?
If you are a travelholic, you might have already come across this paramount destination. Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located towards the Southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula. Easily identified by the iconic Rock of Gibraltar: a 426 m high limestone ridge covered with natural reserve. Gibraltar accommodates a population of nearly 33,000 people within its 6.7 km2 of land.
Gibraltar airfield commenced its operations back in 1939 amidst World War II as an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy. Later it became a civilian airport with the civilian flight commencement by Monarch airlines connecting the two cities of Gibraltar and Manchester in the UK. EasyJet is presently the largest operator to the airport followed by British airlines, Easter airways, and Wizz Air UK. According to the stats, the Airport handled nearly 500,000 passengers in 2019, while the count drastically dropped to 186,000 in 2020 due to the extreme travel restriction.
What Makes the Airport Peculiar?
Here comes the interesting part! And yes, it is the road crossing the runway. However, the plans made by the authorities to circumvent the road are breathtaking and jaw-dropping.
The airport’s runway falls in the full length of Gibraltar from East to West leaving no options for a road but crossing the runway. The highway connects Southern inland towards the border of Spain. There are more restrictions implemented than a usual road to ensure the safety of both parties: people crossing the runway and airplanes crossing the road. Airport authorities perform a thorough inspection prior to each takeoff or landing to make sure the runway is free from any Foreign Object Debris (FOD).
Heavy Crosswinds Making the Airport Perilous
It is not only the intersection that makes the airport fall under the extreme category, but heavy crosswinds account significantly for the extreme nature. The unusual location of the rock and the wind gusting from the Bay of Algeciras threaten pilots throughout the year while making winter season operations more challenging.
Road Crossing the Runway Becomes a Tunnel!
Airport authorities decided to build a tunnel to accommodate increasing road traffic. Crossing the runway has been a burden for many decades and the authorities decided to construct a dual-lane tunnel under the East end of the runway. Construction has been ongoing for 14 years and finally, some good news is looming around. The government confirmed that the tunnel will be completed by the end of 2021 or early 2022. The 350 m tunnel underneath the runway stretches to a 1.24 km dual-lane road to either side of the inland.
The government and the contracting companies had many controversies and legal battles during the construction, exacerbating the progress. Finally, things have gone well for Gibraltarians and the astronomical investment made by the government will result in improving the living quality of people and attracting more tourists to the country.