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7 Of The Most Remote Airports On Earth

If you can't land, there isn't an alternate for hundreds, sometimes thousands, of miles. It takes precise planning and favorable weather conditions to allow flights into these challenging airports.

1) St. Helena Island (South Atlantic)

St. Helena's airport, completed in 2017 has a handful of weekly commercial flights serviced by Airlink South Africa from Johannesburg on an Embraer 190, with a refueling stop in Namibia. British Airways has operated flights into the airport, too. The airport's short 6,000 foot runway was constructed on top of a mountain, with cliffs plummeting thousands of feet into the ocean below on either side.

Its closest alternate is Ascension Island, also extremely remote the middle of the South Atlantic, located 700NM away.


2) RAF Ascension Island (South Atlantic)

RAF Ascension Island Airport is jointly operated by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and the United States Military. The facility is home to a U.S. Space Command ground tracking station in support of the Eastern Range and rocket launches from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Limited civilian charter flights operate to the airport, with a majority of flights being military C-17s.

Ascension also serves as a diversion airport for ETOPS aircraft crossing the Atlantic. In January 2013, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 777-200LR en route from Johannesburg to Atlanta diverted to Ascension as a result of engine problems. The closest alternate airport is St. Helena Island around 700NM away (unrealistic due to runway length and its isolation). More realistic alternates are located along the coast of Africa, over 800NM away.


3) Airports Along The United Airlines "Island Hopper" Route

The Island Hopper is an airline route between Guam and Honolulu, Hawaii, via several small islands in the Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands. The route, currently operated by United and originally by Continental Micronesia, is the only scheduled service for many of the islands visited en route.

The flight operates three times weekly as United Flight 155 from Guam to Honolulu, and Flight 154 from Honolulu to Guam. A mechanic, 4 pilots, and an extra set of spare parts is carried onboard the Boeing 737-800. The total time from Honolulu to Guam, including time on the ground, is 16 hours. With few alternates and lots of cargo, these flights are usually heavily weight restricted.


4) McMurdo Station Ice Runway (Antarctica)

The Ice Runway is the principal runway for the US Antarctic Program during the summer Antarctic field season due to its proximity to McMurdo Station. The sea ice runway is capable of handling wheeled aircraft, which have included to date: Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Lockheed C-130 Hercules and Lockheed P-3 Orion. The annual sea-ice runway for wheeled aircraft is constructed at the start of each season and is used until early December when the sea ice begins to break up.

A few weeks ago, an Airbus A319 flown by the Australian Antarctic Division landed here in response to a medical emergency. The timing of this flight is unusual, being out-of-season, at the beginning of the Antarctic winter. Most flights to the continent normally cease by the end of March! The closest, paved runway alternate is in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 miles away!


5) Tenzing Hillary Airport (Lukla, Nepal)

The Tenzing-Hillary Airport in Lukla, Nepal is arguably the most challenging airport in the world. With its high altitude, mountains, wind-shear, turbulence, short runway, and constantly changing weather, landing here is reserved for the most experienced of pilots.

At 9,392 feet, Lukla Nepal is one of the world's highest airports, and it's the stopping off point for hikers trekking to Mount Everest. Its single runway, 06/24, is only 1,500 feet long and has a 12% gradient. It's a one-way-in, one-way-out airport, with traffic landing on Runway 06 and departing from Runway 24. Aside from flying, days of trekking are required to get to this small town.

Sam Chui /

6) Mataveri International Airport (Easter Island)

Mataveri International Airport on Easter Island is 1,600 miles west of the Totegegie Airport in French Polynesia, with the Chilean mainland 2,000 miles away. Despite its isolation, high interest in the Moai, Easter Island's unique stone head sculptures, brings a steady amount of tourists to the airport throughout the year.


7) Eareckson Air Station (Alaskan Aleutian Islands)

Eareckson's single 10,000 X 250 ft runway is owned and operated by the United States Air Force for refueling purposes and as a diversion airport for civilian flights. It's located at the end of the remote Alaskan Aleutian island chain. On 24 December 2018, Delta Air Lines Flight 128 from Beijing to Seattle diverted to Eareckson Air Station after pilots were alerted to a "potential engine issue". The diverted plane, a Boeing 767-300ER, spent about 12 hours at Eareckson Air Station before being ferried back to Seattle.


What other airports are extremely remote? Share them in the comments below!

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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