When you think of an international airport, you generally think of a place bustling with people and several flights to many destinations. I visited King Mswati III to see it empty, serving only 4 flights a day, all to the same destination. Join me as I find out why this airport was so empty, and if it will ever see more flights…
The controversy behind the airport’s creation
The airport was created by King Mswati III of Eswatini, a small nation in Africa sandwiched between Mozambique and South Africa, formerly known as Swaziland. He claimed that airlines from across the world wanted to use the nation’s only airport, but in 2018 the country’s civil aviation authority admitted that no new airlines wanted to fly to the airport, and things haven’t changed. Currently, the only airline flying to King Mswati III is South African airline Air Link, flying their 4-times-daily rotation to Johannesburg. Those are the only flights at the airport. Many people show that the airport represents the King’s corruption as it was built using lots of the country’s money and yet hasn’t been delivered as promised.
Why is it so empty?
With Eswatini being the smallest country in the southern hemisphere, many passengers find it easier and cheaper to drive rather than fly, despite it taking slightly longer. According to Google maps, flying from the airport to O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg takes just over an hour, and that doesn’t take into account security and immigration which would take around 2 hours in total. Driving the same route takes just under 5 hours, meaning there’s only a 2-hour difference, a time which most people will choose as it is less expensive.
Is there hope in store for the airport?
Luckily, there are more flights in store for the airport, with a new national airline flying to destinations across Southern Africa from the airport to bring in more money and tourists for the country. The airline, Eswatini Air, purchased a pair of Embraer E145s to serve their routes. Eswatini air will be flying to destinations such as Johannesburg and Cape town in South Africa, and others in Botswana and Namibia. The airline is set to start operating flights later this year.
Whilst the airport remains desolated, it looks like there is some good news in store for the small nation, as their connectivity to other nations begins to expand.
Experience a World of Luxury: Qatar Airways Launches Al Mourjan Business Lounge – The Garden
Qatar Airways has recently revealed its latest addition to the lounge offerings at Doha’s Hamad International Airport – The Al Mourjan Business Lounge – The Garden. Set in the newly expanded North section of the airport, this lounge boasts stunning views of the Orchard Garden and provides a one-of-a-kind experience for premium passengers. With a strong emphasis placed on natural beauty, comfort, wellness, and nature, this lounge is set to provide travelers with a luxurious and rejuvenating airport experience.
The Garden: A World-Class Lounge
The Garden, a section of the Al Mourjan Business Lounge, covers a vast area of 7,390 square meters and has the capacity to hold up to 707 passengers. Positioned in the heart of ‘The Orchard,’ an indoor green space that showcases more than 300 trees and 25,000 plants, the lounge is built to maximize natural light, making it a tranquil and refreshing spot for travelers to unwind before their flight. Qatar Airways’ elite customers can expect a luxurious travel experience featuring a wide range of dining and shopping choices.
Facilities at The Garden
To ensure passengers have a pleasant airport experience, the lounge is equipped with a comprehensive selection of essential and luxurious amenities. The spa facilities, fitness studio, nursery, relaxation, and quiet rooms, game room, and pedicure/manicure stations are all available for passengers to enjoy. The gym has a variety of workout equipment, such as treadmills and elliptical machines, while the spa has seven treatment rooms and automated massage chairs. The lounge’s dining options are equally impressive, with two dining areas situated in the East and West wings. Passengers can indulge in a diverse selection of hot and cold buffets, a coffee bar, and a cocktail station.
HIA’s Lounge Portfolio
HIA has a variety of airport lounges available to passengers, particularly those traveling on Qatar Airways’ premium services. The Al Safwa First Lounge is exclusively for Qatar and Oneworld first-class passengers, providing a distinct minimalist ambiance and is regarded as one of the world’s top lounges. In addition to The Garden’s counterpart lounge in the South area of HIA, elite passengers can choose from the Platinum, Gold, and Silver lounges located in the South or opt to visit the Al Maha or Orxy Lounges.
Qatar Airways’ Commitment to Excellence
Qatar Airways aims to continuously enhance its services to deliver the ultimate aviation and hospitality experiences to its passengers. The airline’s unwavering commitment to excellence is deeply ingrained in its brand, and The Garden is an excellent example of this dedication. The introduction of this exceptional lounge underscores Qatar Airways’ promise to provide travelers with a refined travel experience, prioritizing comfort, well-being, and nature.
Akbar Al Baker, the Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, expressed his enthusiasm for the launch of The Garden, saying, “We are thrilled to introduce our esteemed passengers to this magnificent addition to our signature lounge collection. Our newly opened Al Mourjan Business Lounge – The Garden at Hamad International Airport will elevate our passengers’ travel experience to new heights.”
The Al Mourjan Business Lounge – The Garden is a stunning addition to HIA’s elite lounge offerings. The lounge’s emphasis on natural beauty and wellness provides a unique experience for premium Qatar Airways passengers. With a wide range of luxury amenities and dining options, The Garden is an excellent space for travelers to relax and rejuvenate before their flight. Qatar Airways commitment to excellence is evident in the launch of The Garden, and the airline continues to set the standard for aviation and hospitality.
Also, you might be interested in reading: Qatar Airways Welcomes Its First Boeing 737 MAX
- Source: Simple Flying
Flying High: Exploring Finland’s Top 5 Airports with the Longest Runways
Finland’s unique geography and position as a strategic hub for air travel make it an important destination for travelers, military personnel, and cargo operators alike. With a growing demand for air travel, it’s vital to have airports with runways capable of handling a range of aircraft. In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 Finnish airports with the longest runways, their histories, and their importance in connecting Finland to the world.
1. Helsinki Vantaa International Airport (HEL)
Helsinki Vantaa International Airport (HEL) holds the top position for having the longest runway in Finland, which is unsurprising given that it is the country’s largest airport. The airport boasts three runways, with the longest measuring an impressive 3,500 meters (11,483 ft). The second and third runways measure 3,060 meters (10,039 ft) and 2,901 meters (9,518 ft), respectively.
Established in 1952, HEL airport initially had only one runway, with the second added in 1956 to accommodate the growing demand for air travel. In 2002, the third runway was inaugurated, leading to increased capacity and more efficient operations. The airport serves as a crucial hub for Finnair and other airlines, connecting Finland to destinations across the globe.
2. Rovaniemi Airport (RVN)
Rovaniemi Airport (RVN) was constructed in 1940 and served as an airbase during the Continuation War, functioning as a supply hub for the German Luftwaffe. The airport has a single runway that measures 3,002 meters (9,849 ft) in length.
While RVN’s runway may not be capable of accommodating fully loaded Boeing 747-8 aircraft, it is capable of serving as a landing strip for an Airbus A380, which necessitates a minimum runway length of 3,000 meters. RVN airport serves as a gateway to the Lapland region, which is a famous tourist destination known for its winter sports and Northern Lights.
3. Kuopio Airport (KUO)
Kuopio Airport (KUO) is situated in northeastern Finland and ranks as the country’s fifth busiest airport, generating considerable profits. The airport has a single runway that measures 2,800 meters (9,186 ft) in length.
An interesting fact about KUO airport is that during its establishment in 1939 and throughout the Finnish-Soviet Continuation War, the runways were entirely constructed of plywood. However, they have been upgraded to asphalt, resulting in enhanced safety and efficiency. KUO airport is used by both the Finnish Air Force and commercial airlines, playing a vital role in connecting military and civilian operations.
4. Tampere-Pirkkala Airport (TMP)
Tampere-Pirkkala Airport (TMP), which was established in 1936, is one of Finland’s oldest airports, boasting one of the longest runways in the country. The airport has a single runway that measures 2,700 meters (8,858 ft) in length.
The runway was paved in 1958 and serves both commercial and military aircraft, making it a critical link for both civilian and military operations. Located in southern Finland, TMP airport serves as a gateway to the Tampere region, which is renowned for its cultural attractions and industrial heritage.
5. Kauhava Airport (KAU)
Kauhava Airport (KAU) was previously utilized for military activities until 2014 and currently holds the fifth position on the list of Finnish airports with the longest runways. The airport has a single runway that is 2,700 meters (8,858 ft) long.
Although KAU’s runway may not be suitable for accommodating fully loaded Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 aircraft, it can still serve as a landing strip for other types of planes, including turboprops and popular models such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. KAU airport is a crucial hub for both military and civilian activities in western Finland.
In conclusion, Finland’s airports with the longest runways play a crucial role in connecting the country to the world. With Helsinki Vantaa International Airport leading the pack, the other airports on this list provide important links for both civilian and military operations, as well as serving as gateways to some of Finland’s most popular regions. As air travel continues to grow, these airports will remain essential in connecting Finland to the rest of the world.
Also, you might be interested in reading: Which airports have the shortest runways?
- Source: Simple Flying
Atlanta Airport Retains Title for Busiest Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) has once again been named the world’s busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic for the year 2022.
According to data published by The Airports Council International (ACI) this Wednesday, Atlanta leads the list of busiest airports by a large margin, with around 93 million passengers passing through the airport in 2022. That’s more than 256,711 passengers per day, on average, traveling through Atlanta. Following Atlanta is Dallas Fort Worth International Airport with around 73 million passengers in 2022.
Atlanta has held the number one spot for busiest airport for almost every year since 1998, coming in second only once in 2020 to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport.
Why is Atlanta the Busiest Airport?
Although Atlanta is not a significant tourist destination or an highly populated city, it still holds the title for the busiest airport due to 2 primary reasons:
- The city’s geographical position in the Eastern part of the United States. Atlanta’s location enables it to be within a two-hour flight of 80% of the US population, making it an important connecting point between cities.
- Atlanta’s role as the primary hub for Delta Airlines, which is headquartered in the city. The large majority of flights in Atlanta are from Delta Airlines.
Increasing Trend for Air Travel
The passenger traffic data from ACI for 2022 shows a recovering trend in air travel for Atlanta airport. All airports among the top 10 busiest had an increase in passenger traffic from the previous year, with Atlanta seeing a 23.8% increase; however all but 2 airports (Istanbul and Denver) among the top 10 fell short of their numbers from 2019. Nevertheless, Atlanta’s passenger volume has been increasing steadily since 2020 and is on track to return to its pre-pandemic levels from 2019.
Atlanta Airport Passengers:
2019: 110.5 million
2020: 42.9 million
2021: 75.7 million
2022: 93.7 million
Will passenger traffic during this year at ATL return or even surpass that of 2019? The Airports Council International believes that a full recovery in global passenger traffic won’t happen until 2024, however Atlanta could reach its pre-pandemic levels sooner.
READ ALSO: The World’s Largest Airports
Cover Image: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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