tymask.ono

9 April, 2008

Filed under: World best — tymask @ 5:55 pm

Princess Juliana International Airport (IATA: SXM, ICAO: TNCM) serves the Dutch part of the island of Saint Martin. It is the second busiest airport in the Eastern Caribbean, after Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 2005, the airport handled 1,663,226 passengers. The airport serves as a hub for Windward Islands Airways and is the major gateway for the smaller Leeward Islands, including Anguilla, Saba, St. Barthélemy and St. Eustatius. It is named after Juliana of the Netherlands, who was crown princess when the airport opened. There is also an airport on the French side of the island near Marigot, called Grand Case Airport or L’Espérance Airport.

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The airport is famous for its short landing strip — at only 2,180 metres/7,152 ft, it is barely long enough for heavy jets to land. Therefore, larger planes approach the island flying extremely low, passing 10-20 meters (30-60 ft.) over relaxing tourists on Maho Beach. Photographs of this common occurrence have often been unjustly dismissed as fakes. The low-flying aircraft and challenging task of landing have made the airport one of the favourites among planespotters.

Despite the difficulties in approach, there has been no records of major aviation incidents at the airport. As of early 2007, KLM stopped its weekly Boeing 747 flight to Princess Juliana. Presently, the only airline to operate the jumbojet Boeing 747 to the airport is Paris based Corsairfly, at a frequency of once a week in low season (April through October) and twice a week in high season (November through March).

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