St Maarten tops region for 2020’s most scenic airports

SXM Airport, St. Maarten

St Maarten (Princess Juliana) International Airport, which provides flyers and beach lovers alike with one of the most spectacular landing spots in the world, has topped the 2020’s list for most scenic airports for the South America, Central America & the Caribbean region.

Princess Juliana International Airport also ranked seventh place in the worldwide poll.

Close behind in the regional ranking is Aruba (Queen Beatrix) International Airport with sweeping views over the Caribbean island of Aruba and Rio de Janeiro (Galeão) International Airport in third position with its eye-popping views over the spectacular Brazilian coast and bustling city of Rio.

The results of the annual Scenic Airports poll by private jet booking service PrivateFly, a Directional Aviation company, come in an uplifting reminder of the joys of flying, as aviation has one of its most challenging years on record due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This is the first time the poll also revealed the highest-ranked airports by region, from Europe to North America, South America, Central America & the Caribbean, Asia, Africa & the Middle East and Australasia.

Donegal in Ireland has been named as the world’s most beautiful airport 2020 – for the third successive year – in a major vote by more than 6,000 flying fans.

Set in a ruggedly beautiful location amid an untouched landscape, Donegal was voted into the top spot. Coming in second place was Msembe Airstrip in Tanzania, which serves the breath-taking and protected Ruaha National Park in East Africa. Skiathos (Alexandros Papadiamantis) Airport in Greece came third, offering stunning views of the island of Skiathos, glittering in the Aegean Sea.

More than 6,000 frequent flyers, flight enthusiasts and aviation geeks took part in this year’s poll, with voting taking place in February and March this year, just before widespread travel restrictions to counter COVID-19 were introduced across the globe.

Adam Twidell, PrivateFly CEO, said: “Many of us have flown less frequently this year, but these ultimate destination landings are a welcome reminder of the uplifting power of travel and aviation – and a jaw dropping inspiration for some memorable future flights. Flying offers the ultimate ringside seat to some of the most incredible views to be seen anywhere around the world.

“Our top ten list for 2020 has been compiled following submissions from aviation enthusiasts around the world, eager to celebrate the most beautiful aerial views from window seats and flight decks, with Donegal deemed unbeatable for the third year in a row.”

Top ten list of the World’s Most Scenic Airports 2020:

  1. Donegal Airport, Ireland
  2. Msembe Airstrip, Tanzania
  3. Skiathos (Alexandros Papadiamantis) Airport, Greece
  4. Orlando Melbourne International Airport, USA
  5. Barra Airport, Scotland (UK)
  6. Bora Bora (Motu Mute) Airport, French Polynesia
  7. St Maarten (Princess Juliana) International Airport, St Maarten
  8. Praslin Island Airport, Seychelles
  9. Dubai International Airport, UAE
  10. Nadi International Airport, Fiji

Other Regional rankings for 2020:

PrivateFly’s annual Scenic Airports poll for 2020 also reveals the top winners by world region:

  • In Europe remote Donegal on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland offering stunning season-round views, clinched the top position. This is followed in second place by Skiathos (Alexandros Papadiamantis) Airport, on the glittering Greek island of Skiathos; and the unique beach landing of Barra Airport in Scotland in third place.
  • In North America, the most scenic airport is Orlando (Melbourne) International Airport in the US, offering amazing views over the deep turquoise waters of Indian River. New York’s JFK Airport is in second place with its eye-catching vistas of Long Island, tree-covered suburbs and superb views of distant Manhattan. Third most popular is Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport, with its incredible views of Hawaii, from nearby palm-fringed beaches at the entrance to Pearl Harbor to the towering green mountains overlooking Honolulu.
  • Asia offers a wealth of amazing airports, with Malé (Velana) International Airport providing once-in-a-lifetime views of the exotic islands of the Maldives; and Hong Kong (Chek Lap Kok) International Airport in second place with views of towering Hong Kong and the spectacular man-made island which is home to the new state-of-the-art airport. Third but not least is Kathmandu (Tribhuvan) International Airport offering flyers phenomenal and adrenalin-raising views of mountainous Nepal.
  • The top airport for Africa & The Middle East this year is remote Msembe Airstrip in Tanzania with its sweeping vistas of the East African Ruaha National Park. Praslin Island Airport in the Seychelles clinches second place with its dazzling Indian Ocean approach and in third is Dubai International Airport the United Arab Emirates with its view of the 21st-century cityscape rising spectacularly from the desert.
  • The natural beauty of Australasia is captured with Bora Bora (Motu Mute) Airport in French Polynesia in first place, with its nearby crystal-clear waters. In close second place was Nadi International Airport in Fiji and its breathtaking approach across the Pacific Ocean. New Zealand’s Queenstown Airport in third, offers flyers an incredible approach over Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps mountain range.
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