What Happens to Airports When They’re Abandoned?

Here’s a fascinating look, mostly in pictures, at The Tattered, Haunting Remains of Abandoned Airports.

    (Not JFK’s Terminal 2)

There’s a pictorial of Nicosia International Airport in Cyprus, which ceased operations with the Turkish invasion of 1974 and Yasser Arafat International Airport in the Gaza Strip, operational from 1998 to 2001.

I found this especially interesting, not sure how I hadn’t ever heard of it:

Objekat 505, or the Željava Airbase, one of the largest underground airports in Europe, on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, constructed between 1948 and 1968. It was designed to sustain a hit from a 20 kt nuclear bomb.

When airports are decommissioned, of course, their airport codes get reassigned. But they continue to live on at least for a brief time as Avianca LifeMiles glitches.

(HT: Kevin B.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It looks like the TV show Life After People. It’s a fun and interesting program to watch if you can find it. It’s pure speculation but interesting to think about, my son and I enjoyed watching it together.

  2. Surprised that Mirabel didn’t get a mention. I used to fly there when traveling to Montreal in the late 1990s. Terrible airport nowhere near downtown Montreal. I hear they are now using the runways as a drag strip.

  3. Yeah, I agree that it’s not “best in class” among these humorous safety videos, too long and only just “OK.” And I’ve got a feeling I’m going to really dislike it after about the 10th time I see it.

    Does anyone know if they used actual employees in the video? I’m guessing that they did because some of the flight attendants don’t seem quite polished enough in their presentations to be professional actors. It is always a nice gesture for the employee group when they do use real employees.

  4. What happens? Just ask the folks in STL, MEM or…. Sorry I couldn’t help it.
    Interesting post. Thanks.

  5. Let’s post some real airport closure/ghost town stuff. Think of where you are wondering about.

    1. Thanks for Mirabel update, in Montreal. I wondered what they’d ever do with it… I had heard it was just a freight airport now, but they’ve put so much $ into Dorval… And Dorval is no longer like a flashback to 1962….

    2. How about Ontario’s (ONT) second terminal? What’s going on there?

    3. The little old terminal at DCA? Is that now a general aviation terminal, or are commercial operations still working out of there?

    4. PIT. Sad, formerly cutting edge PIT. How many flights a day do non-WN carriers make now? Are there ANY international flights? Is there ANY shopping left?

    5. SWF. Whatever happened just north of NYC? I remember getting a cheap flight in/out of there, and finding it essentially impossible to go anywhere without a rental car. Cheap lobster dinners in Cold Spring, and a B&B, then drop off the car in NYC the next day. Still cheaper than JFK/LGA and a cab.

    6. Santa Maria, CA. Oxnard, CA. Concord, CA. Palmdale, CA. Flew into all of these once or twice over the past 30 years. I think SMX is still open, a couple UX flights from LAX a day perhaps.

    7. The “Imperial Terminal” at LAX. Took World Airways in/out of this dump in or around 1981-3. It was on the other side of the airport from all the terminals, now used for freight.

    8. KaiTak Airport in HongKong. What has become of it? Did the city fill in to take over what little land the runways occupied, or is it a park now?

    9. Detroit City Airport, up by 8 Mile. Flew into here on WN about 1988, they stayed for maybe a year or so, then abandoned it for Metro Airport. Is there still a terminal? Any service? Any plans?

    10. The obvious oldest terminal at Detroit Metro— used now as a rental car garage, I think. Missing windows, like their old train station. It’s vintage 1930s; it ought to be a cool hotel and restaurant, ending the hegemony of Four Points, Days Inn and their 60’s ilk. Instead, it’s a shell.

  6. 11. Speaking of Metro, I seem to remember when I was a kid, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, that Willow Run Airport, near Ypsilanti, MI, actually had some passenger service. That airport was a major site of WWII plane manufacturing and dispatch.

    12. You really need to see the airport “terminal” in Crescent City, CA (CEC) for a laugh. It’s about the size of a freeway rest stop’s facilities, and only slightly less grungy. The airport exists for a couple of United Express flights, basically taking people to/from the Pelican Bay State Prison, so the state buys most of the tickets I think, to/from Sacramento. Last time I was there, you had to walk to the Air Rescue dispatcher across the parking lot to get a Hertz car, and no competitors.

    13. Martha’s Vineyard airport really was “Wings” some years ago. Did it ever get rebuilt?

    14. Went on EasyJet or some such to their “Frankfurt, Germany” airport, which was really Hahn Airport, a decommissioned old AFB. I understand RyanAir still flies there. It is about 1.5 hours from Frankfurt, in reality, and had no transport to town at the time.

    15. What about the Saarinen terminal at JFK that once housed PanAm? Did they succeed in knocking it down, or can you go through it as part of what, Jet Blue’s terminal?

    16. What is at Denver-Stapleton now?

  7. I can answer about the old terminal at DCA. It is still in use by several small airlines and I think that Air Canada still uses the old terminal. I’ve had to pick up several people at the old terminal in the past six months.

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