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NEWS Last modified on April 20, 2016

Airports with a view – the world's most scenic gateways

Donegal Airport in Ireland. Donegal Airport in Ireland.

What do Malta, Nice Côte d’Azur, Queenstown, Barra, Saba, Billy Bishop Toronto City, Donegal, St Maarten, LAX and London City airports all have in common?

Well, according to PrivateFly’s annual Scenic Airport Poll, they are the gateways that offer the most scenic approaches based on the feedback from over 7,500 global travellers and travel industry experts.
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Malta International Airport took top spot, with PrivateFly quoting one voter as saying: “I love this airport approach due to the amazing scenery one may see. On approach, you can see not only Malta, but its sister islands (Gozo and Comino) too. Add the sunset to that scenario and the result is just magic.”

The judges panel includes former New York Times travel writer, Joe Sharkey, who says: "Approached from a churning blue sea, the tiny, isolated rocky island nation suddenly appears and you immediately understand Malta's strategic geo-political importance for literally millennia by sea and later air in the middle of the Mediterranean."
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Nice Côte d’Azur Airport was the runner up, with one voter proclaiming: “Nothing like approaching the French Riviera between sea and mountains. In winter it's just magic, you look at the deep blue Mediteranean Sea and the Alpes with the white snow...simply gorgeous!"

John Di-Scala, also on the judging panel, said: "Landing in NCE in the summer and seeing the scenery always puts a smile on my face."
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Queenstown Airport in New Zealand was voted the third most scenic airport to land at in the world, one voter saying: “The views of the Southern Alps make this an exhilarating approach. 

“Sometimes you can even catch a glimpse of Mount Cook to the north, or Milford Sound as you reach the end of Tasman Sea. In winter you see snow-capped peaks and in summer the alps glisten in the sun."

Another judge, Bill Prince, said: "A world class approach to a world class destination. The snatched panoramas as you descend into this hitherto barren-looking landscape makes you realise that pilots do get the best views."
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The top 10 list includes everyone’s favourite airport on the beach, St Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport, and Donegal Airport in Ireland, which in addition to a beautiful stretch of sand of its own passengers are treated to views of Mount Errigal on one side and “an array of craggy islands on the other”.

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Describing the approach to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), one voter said: “Flights come in from the desert past the mountains, past the beautiful LA downtown skyline and culminate with a spectacular view of the ocean, adjacent to the airport, all of which happens in about the last hour of your trip.”

While travel writer Sharkey, who voted for LAX, noted: “The approach reveals not just the vast urban sprawl but most remarkably LA's stunning geography – sea, mountains, valley, desert beyond – all bathed in the amazing Los Angeles white sunlight.”

The top 10 list includes:

1. Malta International Airport, Malta

2. Nice Cote D'Azur Airport, France

3. Queenstown Airport, New Zealand

4. Barra Airport, Scotland, UK

5. Saba Airport (Juancho E Yrausquin), Caribbean

6. Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, Canada

7. Donegal Airport, Ireland

8. St Maarten Airport (Princess Juliana International), Caribbean

9. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), USA

10. London City Airport, UK



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