June 02, 2012
Struth! Airport pantheon on Madeira
IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis asks is this gigantic concrete structure rising out of the sea (Pic 1) part of a massive coastal highway jumping from headland to headland, the foundations for some future huge over-water resort, or possibly a vast car-park for nearby beaches?
The answer to all three suggestions, is in fact, No.
The clue is the vast number of sturdy concrete pylons, because this is actually an extension to the runway for the airport serving the city of Funchal on the Portuguese holiday island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean – allowing the largest international airliners to bring their hordes of sun-worshippers to Madeira, that attracts almost 1-million visitors a year by air, and another 400,000 annually by cruise ship.
The airport with its passenger terminal and control tower to the left and the runway extension to the right: and if you look closely you'll see why aircraft have to do an immediate nail-biting 90-degree turn out to sea after take-off – because otherwise they'll risk running into the hill that's just off the end of this massive runway extension.