Flying to Donegal

Posted by The Skibbereen Eagle | May 5, 2017 0

Donegal, not content with being voted the coolest place in the world to visit in 2017 by National Geographic Traveller, has now had the landing strip at its regional airport in Carrickfinn voted the second most scenic in the world.

Obviously that vote was a mistake as everybody here at the Eagle’s Nest actually knows West Cork is just the coolest place to visit and live Boyo! The Caribbean island of Saba, which has the world’s shortest commercial runway, topped the poll of 122 airports worldwide shortlisted by the private jet book service PrivateFly and voted on by more than 8,000 respondents. Adam Twidell, chief executive of PrivateFly, and an experience pilot, said: “I have landed at Donegal many times and the rugged coastline of Ireland’s north west coast is even more awe-inspiring from the air, with the backdrop of Mount Errigal adding to the timeless appeal.”


“Breathtaking, stunning, wild, dramatic … You will not see anything like it anywhere else on earth … An Irish welcome awaits every visitor”, were some of the comments made by voters about the landing strip. It’s not the first time that Donegal Airport has featured in this poll; it took seventh place last year, despite not being among those nominated by the judging panel. “Voters can vote for any global airport – not just those on the judges’ shortlist,” a company spokesperson said. 

Brilliant blue seas, with the famous Promenade des Anglais in the near vista and a mountainous backdrop, make for a dramatic landing at Nice Côte d’Azur airport and the Provençal location took third place in the poll. Radio presenter and social media consultant Bibi Baskin was born in Ardara, and has lived in New York, the UK and India, where she ran a hotel in Kerala. She says she has flown into the tiny airport “hundreds of times”. 

“The approach to Donegal airport is entirely enchanting. There’s the craggy, rocky hinterland of the hills combined with the Atlantic in all its vastness and wildness crashing on to the shore. Even though I grew up in Donegal that view never ceased to excite. It truly is Donegal scenery at its best.

“Flying back to Donegal from tropical south India via the deserts of the UAE, and from London Heathrow, I would make sure that I had a window seat so that I could experience the best airport approach in the world. Well, maybe second best, according this poll. But for me, it’s number one.”

Joanne Sweeney-Burke, chief executive of Digital Training Institute, a digital agency based in Galway, and a finalist on the TV3 show The Apprentice, has been a regular commuter from the airport. 

“Running a business from Letterkenny, I had to be in Dublin almost weekly for meetings. Driving was not productive and so I used Donegal Airport for commutes. Flights between Donegal Airport and Dublin Airport run twice daily all year round and there are flights up to six times weekly from Donegal to Glasgow International Airport. Originally just a grass strip, Donegal Airport officially opened in 1986 with a tarmac runway and temporary airport buildings. In the 1990’s permanent airport terminal buildings were built and the runway was extended, following funding from the Irish Government and other sources. The airport is now used by one scheduled airline and for private charter flights, including helicopters connecting the area’s many offshore gas installations to the airport. 

But for PrivateFly’s private jet customers, it’s open all hours. However, it is not the only Irish airport with a great approach. There is the wonderful sweep of the Shannon and Fergus Estuaries on the approach to Shannon Airport, the beauty of the McGillycuddy Reeks Mountains on the approach to Kerry Airport and my own personal favourite, the backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains and the sweep of Dublin Bay as you approach over Howth with Lambay Island in the distance as you arrive by air in my hometown of Dublin.

Just some more reasons to drop into Ireland.

The Skibbereen Eagle

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