Madeira Airport

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Madeira Airport
Aeroporto da Madeira
Aeroporto da Madeira runway.JPG
Airport type Public
Operator Aeroportos da Madeira
Serves Funchal
Location Santa Catarina, Santa Cruz
Elevation AMSL 58 m / 190 ft
Coordinates 32°41′39″N 16°46′41″W / 32.69417°N 16.77806°W / 32.69417; -16.77806Coordinates: 32°41′39″N 16°46′41″W / 32.69417°N 16.77806°W / 32.69417; -16.77806
LPMA is located in Madeira
Location in Portugal
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 2,781 9,124 Asphalt
Statistics (2011 / 2014)
Aircraft movements 21,346
Passengers 2,459,793[1][2]
Source: Portuguese AIP

Madeira Airport (IATA: FNCICAO: LPMA), formerly known as Santa Catarina Airport and informally known as Funchal Airport, is an international airport in the civil parish of Santa Catarina, municipality of Santa Cruz, in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira.

The airport was once infamous for its short runway which, surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, made it a tricky landing for even the most experienced of pilots. Its innovative solution allowed Funchal to receive the Outstanding Structure Award in 2004 by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering,[3] which aims at recognizing the most remarkable, innovative, creative or otherwise stimulating structure completed within the last few years.[4] Nevertheless it is still considered one of the most dangerous airports in the world.[5]


Madeira Airport was officially opened on 18 July 1964, with two 1,600 m (5,249 ft) runways. The first flight ever to land was a TAP Air Portugal Lockheed Constellation with 80 passengers on board.

In 1972, the popularity of visiting the island of Madeira increased, so the runway had to be extended to allow modern and larger aircraft to land. Considered the Kai Tak of Europe because of its singular approach to runway 05,[6] the decision was made to extend the existing runway, instead of building a new one. In the meantime, a brand new terminal was built at the airport in 1973, handling 500,000 passengers.

Between 1982 and 1986, Madeira's runway was successfully extended by 200 m (656 ft) to a total of 1,800 m (5,906 ft), and also four gates were opened. The original runway was only 1,600 m (5,249 ft) long, but was extended by 200 m (656 ft) 8 years after the TAP Portugal Flight 425 crash of 1977.

In 2000, the runway was again extended this time to 2,781 m (9,124 ft) almost doubling the size of the original runway. As landfill was not a realistic option, the extension was built on a platform, partly over the ocean, supported by 180 columns, each about 70 m (230 ft) tall. The extension of Madeira Airport was conducted by the Brazilian construction company Andrade Gutierrez, and is recognized worldwide as one of the most difficult to achieve due to the type of terrain and orography.

The new runway and terminal were inaugurated on 6 October 2002, and to mark the occasion an Air-Atlantic Iceland Boeing 747-267B, registration TF-ABA, landed at the airport.[7] Although this was a rare event, some TAP Portugal flights make scheduled stops at Madeira with wide bodied A330-200 aircraft, on the Lisbon-Caracas-Lisbon route.

In 2004, Dr. Manabu Ito, President of the International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE), presented the IABSE Outstanding Structure Award in Shanghai: the enlargement of the new runway at Funchal Airport, won the 2004 Outstanding Structure Award (considered the Oscars of worldwide structural engineering),[8] by the IABSE.[9]

The History Channel program Most Extreme Airports ranked it as the 9th most dangerous airport in the world, and the second most dangerous in Europe after Gibraltar International Airport.[10]

Madeira Airport Runway


Funchal Airport is 13.2 km (8.2 mi) east-northeast of the regional capital Funchal. The airport controls national and international air traffic for the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo.


View of the airport from Machico
Partial view of the airport's main building
Main check-in desks hall

The airport has a single terminal which opened in 1973. The terminal has 40 check-in desks, 16 boarding gates and 7 baggage belts. There are no air-bridges so passengers either walk the short distance to the terminal or are taken by shuttle bus. The terminal itself is mostly underground.

Airlines and destinations[edit]

Airlines Destinations
Aero VIP Porto Santo
Aigle Azur Paris-Orly
Air Berlin Berlin-Tegel, Düsseldorf, Leipzig/Halle, Munich
Seasonal: Nuremberg
Arkefly Seasonal: Amsterdam
Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna (begins 1 April 2015)
Austrian Airlines
operated by Tyrolean Airways
Seasonal: Vienna (ends 31 March 2015)
British Airways London-Gatwick (begins 11 May 2015)
Binter Canarias Gran Canaria, Tenerife-South
Condor Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig/Halle, Munich
easyJet Bristol, Edinburgh, Lisbon, London–Gatwick, Manchester
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Enter Air Seasonal: Gdańsk, Wrocław, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Poznań[11]
Europe Airpost Montpellier, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Finnair Helsinki[12][13]
Germania[14] Bremen
Seasonal: Erfurt/Weimar, Hamburg, Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden
operated by Air Nostrum
Seasonal: Bilbao, Madrid East Midlands, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, Manchester
Seasonal: Newcastle upon Tyne[15]
Jetairfly Brussels[16]
Luxair Luxembourg
Monarch Airlines Birmingham, London–Gatwick
Niki Seasonal: Vienna
Neos Milan–Malpensa
Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: Copenhagen, Oslo–Gardermoen, London-Gatwick
Primera Air Seasonal: Göteborg, Oulu
SATA International Dublin, Paris–Orly, Stockholm–Arlanda
SATA International
operated by SATA Air Açores
Faro, Gran Canaria, Ponta Delgada
Small Planet Airlines Seasonal: Vilnius
operated by Travel Service Airlines[17]
Seasonal: Prague[18]
TAP Portugal Caracas, Lisbon, Porto
Winter Seasonal: London Heathrow
Summer Seasonal: Madrid, Barcelona
TAP Portugal
operated by Portugália
Lisbon, Porto
Thomas Cook Airlines Manchester
Seasonal: Glasgow, London–Gatwick, Porto Santo
Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium Brussels
Thomas Cook Airlines Scandinavia Seasonal: Billund, Copenhagen, Helsinki
Thomson Airways Birmingham, Exeter, Glasgow, London–Gatwick, Manchester
Seasonal: Bournemouth, London–Luton, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham/East Midlands
Transaero Airlines Seasonal: Moscow–Domodedovo Amsterdam France Paris-Orly, Lyon, Porto
Seasonal: Nantes
Travel Service Airlines Charter: Prague, Strasbourg
Travel Service Poland Charter: Warsaw–Chopin, Wrocław
TUIfly Seasonal: Basel/Mulhouse, Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt, Hanover, Stuttgart
Ukraine International Airlines Charter: Kiev–Boryspil
Volotea Charter: Nantes, Beauvais, Clermont- Ferrand, Dijon, Perpignan, Marseille, Saint-Etienne[19]
Vueling Seasonal: Barcelona (begins 20 June 2015)[20]
White Airways Charter: Lyon, Nantes, Paris-Charles Gaulle, Sao Vicente

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest routes from Madeira Airport (2010)[21]
Rank Country City Passengers Carriers
1 Portugal Lisbon 865,994 EasyJet, Portugália Airlines, TAP Portugal
2 United Kingdom London 227,096 EasyJet, Monarch Airlines, TAP Portugal, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways
3 Portugal Porto 218,992 TAP Portugal, Transavia
4 United Kingdom Manchester 59,367, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways
5 Portugal Porto Santo 47,684 SATA Air Açores
6 Netherlands Amsterdam 44,270 Arkefly, Transavia
7 France Paris 41,794 Aigle Azur, Europe Airpost, SATA Internacional, Transavia France
8 Finland Helsinki 39,284 Air Finland, Finnair, Thomas Cook Airlines, Scandinavian
9 United Kingdom Bristol 38,201 EasyJet
10 Germany Düsseldorf 37,626 Air Berlin

Incidents and accidents[edit]

SA de Transport Aérien Sud Caravelle 10R (HB-ICK) taking off from Geneva (two-years before its accident at Funchal)
  • On 5 March 1973, an Aviaco Sud Caravelle 10R (Registration EC-BID) crashed into the sea during approach, losing the aircraft and three crew.[22]
  • On 19 November 1977, TAP Portugal Flight TP425, a Boeing 727-200 (Registration CS-TBR) was traveling from Brussels to Madeira via Lisbon. After a go-around, the aircraft attempted to land in poor weather conditions. It landed long on runway 24 (now runway 23) and plunged over a steep bank. It then struck a stone bridge and the right wing was torn off, and then crashed hard onto a beach. A fire then broke out, setting the aircraft alight. Out of the 164 on board, 131 lost their lives.[23]
  • On 18 December 1977, SA de Transport Aérien Flight 730, a Sud Caravelle 10R (registration HB-ICK) was cleared for approach on runway 06 (now runway 05), but descended below 720 ft (220 m) causing the aircraft to crash into the sea. 36 people died out of the 57 on board.[24]


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ 10 Most Dangerous Landing Strips in the World
  7. ^ "Old Memories – 747 in Madeira – Rui Sousa, Looking through the glass". 
  8. ^ "The Outstanding Structure Award". 
  9. ^ "Outstanding Structure Award". 
  10. ^ The Most Extreme Airports (video). The History Channel. 26 August 2010. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Germania Flight Schedule / 30.12.2014 - 01.11.2015" (PDF). Germania. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Jetairfly Flight Plan". Jetairfly. 
  17. ^ "SmartWings Contact". 
  18. ^ "SmartWings Flight schedule". 
  19. ^ "Volotea vai começar a operar para a Madeira a partir de aeroportos regionais franceses". Dnoticias.Pt. 
  20. ^ "Vueling Plans New Routes in S15". 
  21. ^ Estatística De Tráfego Aéreo 2010[dead link]
  22. ^ EC-BID at the Aviation Safety Network
  23. ^ CS-TBR at the Aviation Safety Network
  24. ^ HB-ICK at the Aviation Safety Network

External links[edit]

Media related to Madeira Airport at Wikimedia Commons