Did You Know The World's Smallest Runway Is On A Caribbean Beach?

Did You Know The World's Smallest Runway Is On A Caribbean Beach?
See that tiny airstrip? That's the entire airport, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In this tiny stretch, overshooting means a straight plunge into the Atlantic

Nayanika Mukherjee
November 23 , 2019
01 Min Read

Just six times the size of a Boeing 777 and wrapped precariously along the edge of a beach is the world's smallest runway for commercial aircrafts. Located on the Dutch Caribbean isle of Saba, it's just 400 metres (1,312 feet) long. 

Sound frightfully taxing as a passenger? Imagine what the pilot's going through. 


Juancho E Irausquin Airport plays home to this record-setting runway, which is only available for regional flights via propeller aircrafts. The runway has three cliff edges that loom over the Caribbean's blue waters, while the fourth face is surrounded by hills. 

All of the flights grounding at Saba airport are under Windward Islands Airways International NV, better known as Winair. Headquartered in Sint Maarten, in the Kingdom of the Netherlands in the Caribbean, Winair has a fleet of seven aircraft that fly to ten destinations in the Leeward Islands, of which Saba is a part. 

The flights to Sint Maarten are on a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter (commonly used in skydiving), since the runway is too tiny for jet aircrafts to take off from.The Leeward Islands are a volcanic group of islands that form the eastern border of the Caribbean Sea against the Atlantic Ocean. 

The airport was named after Juancho Irausquin, the Minister of Finance for the Netherlands Antilles in 1962. The first flight to land there, however, did so three years earlier, when sailor and aviator Remy de Haenen flew to the place after it was cleared as an airport. Reports say that almost all of Saba's population—a mix of African, Dutch, Scottish and English ancestry—gathered to watch this landing. News must have spread fast, since the island is only 13 square kilometres in size!


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