Madeira Airport

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International Airport
Madeira Airport logo.svg
Aeropuerto de Madeira 7-2019 (1).jpg
Airport typePublic
OperatorANA - Aeroportos e Navegação Aérea, SA
ServesMadeira, Portugal
LocationSanta Cruz
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL58 m / 190 ft
Coordinates32°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 (2018)
Passengers change 17-18Decrease0.7%
Aircraft movements25,459
Movements change 17-18Decrease4.4%
Source: ANAC[2], Portuguese AIP

Madeira Airport (Portuguese: Aeroporto da Madeira, IATA: FNC, ICAO: LPMA), informally Funchal Airport (Aeroporto do Funchal), formally Santa Catarina Airport (Aeroporto de Santa Catarina) and officially Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport, is an international airport in the civil parish of Santa Cruz in the Portuguese archipelago and autonomous region of Madeira. The airport is located 13.2 km (8.2 mi) east-northeast of the regional capital, Funchal, after which it is sometimes informally named. It mostly hosts flights to European metropolitan destinations due to Madeira's importance as a leisure destination, and is pivotal in the movement of cargo in and out of the archipelago of Madeira. It is the fourth-busiest airport in Portugal. The airport is named after Madeiran native Cristiano Ronaldo, who is widely considered to be one of the greatest footballers of all time. During its renaming ceremony in 2017, the airport drew media notoriety for an infamous bust of Ronaldo unveiled at the ceremony, now replaced.[2]

The airport is considered one of the most peculiarly perilous airports in the world[3] due to its location and its spectacular runway construction. It received the Outstanding Structure Award in 2004 by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.[4][5][6][7] The History Channel program Most Extreme Airports ranked it as the ninth most dangerous airport in the world and the third most dangerous in Europe.[8] Pilots must undergo additional training to land at the airport.[9]


Madeira Airport is a geographically unusual airport, as it is perched on a foreland jutting out to sea. At the end of runway 05, there lie hills and cliffs which make a direct ILS approach and landing unavailable. Instead aircraft have to do a visual approach which involves flying around the airport, then circling around in a ~180° turn before lining up on a very short final approach. The airport's runway - 05/23 - is a tabletop runway, which means there are steep dropoffs at either end of the runway - at the beginning of Runway 05, the runway drops off just before a motorway that snakes around the runway end, and at the beginning of Runway 23, which drops off a cliff. The runway is also unique in the fact that at the beginning of Runway 23, the runway is placed on a platform supported by pillars, similar to a beam bridge.


Madeira airport as seen in 1990, pre-runway extension

Madeira Airport was officially opened on 7 July 1964, with two 1,600 m (5,200 ft) runways. The first flight to land there was a TAP Air Portugal Lockheed Constellation with 80 passengers on board.[10]

In 1972, the popularity of visiting the island of Madeira increased, so the runway was extended to allow modern and larger aircraft to land. Considered the Kai Tak of Europe because of its singular approach to runway 05,[11] the decision was made to extend the existing runway instead of building a new one. The runway was extended to 1,800 m (5,900 ft), with the extension inaugurated on 1 February 1986 by then president of the Portuguese Republic António Ramalho Eanes. In the meantime, a new terminal was built at the airport in 1973, handling 500,000 passengers.[citation needed]

However, as demand for tourism continued to grow, the runway was extended further. The newly extended runway—now 2,781 m (9,124 ft) long—and terminal were inaugurated on 6 October 2002, and to mark the occasion, an Air Atlanta Icelandic Boeing 747-200, registration TF-ABA, landed at the airport.[12] Although this was a rare event, some TAP Air Portugal flights on the Lisbon-Caracas-Lisbon route used to have scheduled stops at Madeira with Airbus A330-200 widebody aircraft.

Name change[edit]

In 2016, it was announced that the airport would be renamed Madeira International Airport Cristiano Ronaldo (Aeroporto Internacional da Madeira Cristiano Ronaldo) in honour of Madeira native football player Cristiano Ronaldo.[13][14][15] The rebranded terminal was unveiled on 29 March 2017, with a bust of Ronaldo also being presented.[16]

Neither the bust nor the name change were unanimous, actually far from a consensus, as the former was ridiculed by Saturday Night Live's character Cecilia Giminez, portrayed by comedian and actress Kate McKinnon,[17] with the latter being subject to much debate and controversy locally by politicians and citizens, who even started a petition against the move.[18][19]

A year later, sports web site Bleacher Report commissioned sculptor Emanuel Santos to create another bust.[20] However, this bust was never used; instead a new one was made by a Spanish sculptor, shown to the public on 15 June 2018.[21]


Madeira Airport Runway
Partial view of the airport's main building
Main check-in desks hall
Supporting pillars under the airport runway extension


The airport was once infamous for its short runway of only 1,600 m (5,249 ft), which, surrounded by high mountains and the ocean, made it a difficult and technically demanding landing for even the most experienced pilots. Because of the ~150° right-hand turn required, the airport has acquired the nickname of "Kai Tak Airport of Europe" - a reference to the former airport of Hong Kong that also needed a right-hand turn to line up for a landing very low and close to the runway. Between 1982 and 1986, a few years after the TAP Air Portugal Flight 425 crash of 1977, Madeira's runway was extended by 200 m (656 ft) to a total of 1,800 m (5,906 ft), and four gates were opened.

In 2000, the runway was again extended, this time to 2,781 m (9,124 ft). 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 runway extension 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.

Its innovative solution allowed Funchal to receive the Outstanding Structure Award in 2004 by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering,[4] which aims at recognizing the most remarkable, innovative, creative, or otherwise stimulating structure completed within the last few years.[5][6][7]


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.


In 2016, Madeira Airport was modernised and renovated by its operator, ANA Aeroportos de Portugal, as part of an €11 million investment. The renovated terminal area, which was opened in June 2016, by the President of the Autonomous Regional Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, improved the existing facility and facilitated the creation of a brand new shopping area, doubling the airport's overall capacity.

According to VINCI Airports, the airport will "have the capacity to deal with up to 1,400 passengers per hour", and the airport's overall new layout has been designed to enable to accommodation of new stores for national and international brands alike.[22]

The passenger screening area, under the command of Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, increased from 7,000 sq ft (650 m²) to 16,000 sq ft (1,500 m²), accommodating an increase in the number of security screening lines, while the passenger holding and verification area increased from 300 m² to 650 m². The new layout has simplified the passenger experience, creating defined areas for the Schengen Area (which the Autonomous Region of Madeira is part of) and non–Schengen Area passengers, and given the airport operator the ability to alternate these areas based on flight schedules. A new transfer hall and three new departure gates were also created as part of the project.[23]

The renovation and investment project also accommodated the strengthening and re-profiling of the runway and taxiways, increasing the usable area by more than 16,000 sq ft (1,500 m2).

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines operate regular scheduled passenger flights at Madeira Airport:

Austrian Airlines Seasonal: Vienna
Azores Airlines New York–JFK,[24] Ponta Delgada
Binter Canarias Gran Canaria, Porto Santo, Tenerife–North
Seasonal: Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Marrakesh, Tenerife–South
British Airways London–Heathrow
Condor Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Leipzig/Halle, Munich
easyJet Berlin, Bristol, Lisbon, London–Gatwick, Lyon (begins 3 December 2022),[25] Manchester, Milan–Malpensa (begins 4 December 2022),[26] Porto
Edelweiss Air Zürich
Enter Air Seasonal charter: Katowice,[27] Vilnius
EuroAtlantic Airways Seasonal charter: Caracas[28]
Eurowings Prague[29]
Seasonal: Düsseldorf[30]
Eurowings Discover Frankfurt, Munich[31]
Finnair Seasonal: Helsinki
Iberia Regional Madrid[32]
Seasonal: Barcelona,[33] Bilbao Belfast, Birmingham,[34] Bristol,[35] East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, London–Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne
Lufthansa Frankfurt, Munich
Luxair Luxembourg
Neos Seasonal: Tel Aviv[citation needed]
Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: Oslo (begins 28 March 2023)[36]
Ryanair[37] Beauvais, Bergamo, Charleroi, Dublin, Lisbon, London–Stansted, Manchester, Marseille, Nuremberg, Porto
Scandinavian Airlines Seasonal: Stockholm–Arlanda
SkyUp Kyiv–Boryspil (suspended)
Smartwings Seasonal: Prague, Brno
Sundair Seasonal: Berlin[38]
Swiss International Air Lines Seasonal: Geneva[39]
TAP Air Portugal Lisbon, Porto
TAROM Seasonal charter: Bucharest[40]
Transavia Amsterdam, Lyon, Nantes, Paris–Orly, Porto
TUI Airways Birmingham, Manchester
TUI fly Belgium Brussels
TUI fly Deutschland Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hannover, Munich, Stuttgart
TUI fly Netherlands Seasonal: Amsterdam
Ukraine International Airlines Seasonal: Kyiv–Boryspil (suspended)
Ural Airlines Moscow–Zhukovsky[41]
Wizz Air Katowice,[42] London–Gatwick, London–Luton, Vienna (begins 3 December 2022)[43]
Seasonal: Budapest, Warsaw–Chopin


Swiftair Lisbon[44]


Annual passenger traffic at FNC airport. See Wikidata query.
Busiest routes from Madeira Airport (2019)[45]
Rank City, airport Passengers %
Top carriers
1 Lisbon 1,009,847 Increase 1.6% easyJet, TAP Air Portugal
2 Porto 354,823 Increase 5.5% easyJet, TAP Air Portugal
3 London-Gatwick 260,972 Decrease 0.2% easyJet, TUI Airways
4 Manchester 102,723 Decrease 16.8% easyJet,, TUI Airways
5 Frankfurt 95,355 Increase 22.6% Condor, Lufthansa, TUI fly Deutschland
6 Amsterdam 84,511 Increase 2.6% Corendon Airlines, Transavia, TUI fly Netherlands
7 Düsseldorf 79,713 Increase 25.2% Condor, TUI fly Deutschland
8 Paris-Orly 79,399 Decrease 5.4% Transavia
9 Munich 61,975 Increase 20.8% Condor, Lufthansa, TUI fly Deutschland
10 London–Stansted 60,524 Increase 40%

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 5 March 1973, an Aviaco Sud Caravelle 10R (registration EC-BID) crashed into the sea during the landing approach, resulting in the loss of the aircraft and three crew.[46]
  • On 19 November 1977, TAP Air Portugal Flight 425, 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 it crashed hard onto a beach. A fire broke out, setting the aircraft alight. Out of the 164 on board, 131 lost their lives.[47]
  • 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 of the 57 on board.[48]
  • On 11 September 2003 a Beechcraft aircraft carrying a UK pilot and nine Spanish passengers crashed into the sea shortly after taking off from the airport. All occupants died.[49]


  1. ^ "Ryanair To Open New Base At Madeira Airport". 23 November 2021.
  2. ^ "Words really can't describe the bizarre bust of Cristiano Ronaldo at his namesake airport in Portugal". Chicago Tribune. 29 March 2017.
  3. ^ "The world's scariest airport landings: videos". The Telegraph. 18 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Funchal Airport Extension, Madeira Island, Portugal". Archived from the original on 28 May 2014.
  5. ^ a b Advanced Solutions International, Inc. "OStrA". Archived from the original on 25 August 2017. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b "The Outstanding Structure Award". Archived from the original on 27 February 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Outstanding Structure Award".
  8. ^ The Most Extreme Airports (video). The History Channel. 26 August 2010.[dead YouTube link]
  9. ^ "Madeira Special Approach Familiarization (Traditional Classroom & Simulator) - FlightSafety International". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  10. ^ Madeira, RTP, Rádio e Televisão de Portugal-RTP. "A história do Aeroporto da Madeira". @rtppt.
  11. ^ "10 Most Dangerous Landing Strips in the World". Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  12. ^ "Old Memories – 747 in Madeira – Rui Sousa, Looking through the glass". 6 October 2002.
  13. ^ "Madeira airport to be named after Cristiano Ronaldo". FourFourTwo. FourFourTwo. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  14. ^ "Madeira airport renamed after Cristiano Ronaldo". The World Game. Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 23 July 2016.
  15. ^ "Nome do Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo cria mal-estar entre governos do Funchal e Lisboa". Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  16. ^ Berenguer, Márcio. "Nome do Aeroporto Cristiano Ronaldo cria mal-estar entre governos do Funchal e Lisboa". Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  17. ^ "Weekend Update: Cecilia Gimenez on Cristiano Ronaldo Bust - SNL". Saturday Night Live. 9 April 2017. Archived from the original on 21 December 2021. Retrieved 15 June 2018 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "Madeira airport preparing to be renamed after Cristiano Ronaldo". 28 March 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Cristiano Ronaldo airport rename critics slammed by Madeira president". 10 March 2017. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  20. ^ "Ronaldo statue: Sculptor Emanuel Santos takes another shot at bust". BBC News. 30 March 2018. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  21. ^ "Aeroporto da Madeira tem novo busto de Cristiano Ronaldo". Diário de Notícias Madeira. 17 June 2018. Retrieved 17 June 2018.
  22. ^ "VINCI Airports - Madeira Airport invests €11 million in its new shopping galleria". June 2016. Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  23. ^ "Madeira International Airport Modernisation, Madeira Island - Airport Technology". 17 June 2016. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 15 June 2018.
  24. ^ New flight between Madeira and New York announced,, TPN/Lusa, Retrieved 08.09.2022
  25. ^ Easy Jet
  26. ^ Easy Jet
  27. ^ "Bilety czarterowe - tanie bilety lotnicze | Biuro podróży TUI".
  28. ^ [1] Direct Flights to Caracas: See the Available Dates, Jornal da Madeira, in Portuguese, Retrieved 28 September 2022.
  29. ^ "Eurowings baut in Prag aus und legt Nador und Tunis ab Düsseldorf auf". 15 June 2022.
  30. ^ "Eurowings flies to more destinations in summer 2022 than ever before". Eurowings.
  31. ^ Lufthansa Experts
  32. ^ "Iberia to increase its presence in Portugal during the summer". 29 April 2022.
  33. ^ "Air Nostrum volverá a tener vuelos entre Valencia y Barcelona". 4 June 2022.
  34. ^ "Jet2 plans Birmingham – Funchal Oct 2017 launch". Retrieved 25 August 2017.
  35. ^ "Jet2's Bristol Airport base will bring 450,000-holiday seats". 11 November 2020.
  36. ^ "Norwegian NS23 Oslo Routes Addition -17NOV22". 17 November 2022.
  37. ^ "Ryanair vai da Madeira para 10 cidades da Europa a 29,99 euros". 23 November 2021.
  38. ^ "Sundair Adds Berlin – Funchal Service in late-Oct 2022".
  39. ^ "Newsroom : SWISS to expand schedules from mid-summer onwards".
  40. ^ "Karpaten Tourism introduces charter flights from Bucharest to Madeira". 3 March 2021.
  41. ^ "News for Airlines, Airports and the Aviation Industry | CAPA".
  42. ^ "WIZZ – Dream more. Live more. Be more".
  43. ^ Wizz Air To Increase Vienna Presence,, David Casey, Retrieved 03.09.2022
  44. ^ Gaspar, Patrícia (4 March 2018). "Swiftair com viagens diárias para a Madeira a partir desta semana". O Jornal Económico.
  45. ^ "Eurostat Data Explorer". Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  46. ^ EC-BID at the Aviation Safety Network
  47. ^ CS-TBR at the Aviation Safety Network
  48. ^ HB-ICK at the Aviation Safety Network
  49. ^ "Ten die in Portugal plane crash". BBC. 12 September 2003. Retrieved 13 May 2021.

External links[edit]

Media related to Madeira Airport at Wikimedia Commons