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Europe's 'weirdest airport' where a busy city road runs right across middle of runway

Gibraltar International Airport is as unique as the British territory it serves. The air hub is built only a few hundred metres from the historic centre of Gibraltar and the Spanish city of La Línea de la Concepción.

This proximity to urban centres allows tourists and locals alike to simply walk to the airport if they aren’t carrying too much luggage.

Moreover, it is considered an airport where landing can prove challenging, particularly in winter, due to strong cross winds around the Rock and across the Bay of Gibraltar.

This earned it the title handed out by a History Channel programme aired in 2010 of the world’s fifth most extreme airport. But what makes Gibraltar International Airport, formerly known as North Front Airport, truly remarkable is its single runway being intersected by Winston Churchill Avenue.

This road has for many years been a main artery leading towards the land border with Spain. 

Its position means it can’t be crossed by pedestrians and cyclists every time an aircraft lands or departs. Vehicles used to regularly access this stretch of the Avenue too, sparking traffic jams and delays when aircraft were arriving and leaving.

In late March last year, however, a new road and tunnel access route to Gibraltar was launched, which prompted the closure of vehicular access across the runway.

The road, named Kingsway, passes under the new terminal and towards the eastern edge of the runway before passing through a 1,150-foot-long tunnel.

The airport is a joint civil-military facility, with the runway and aerodrome owned by the UK Ministry of Defence and operated by the Royal Air Force as RAF Gibraltar.

The Government of Gibraltar operates the civilian air terminal on the north side of the airfield.

The new terminal became fully operational in 2012, and replaced the one built in 1959 after it was deemed unable to cope with the growing number of passengers reaching the Rock.

The new terminal measures 380,000 square feet – 160,000 square feet larger than the old structure – and features two baggage carousels and three departure gates.

The airport at the Rock has a capacity of up to 1.5 million passengers a year.

It serves not just those reaching and leaving Gibraltar but also many British tourists who spend their holidays in Costa del Sol or other holiday hotspots in western Andalusia.


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