It’s the same airport that also has a circus, a boatyard and a few tennis courts under the runway.
This is one of the most quirky airports in the world, due to it’s very unique runway. Madeira Island is almost vertical, with hardly any flat parts on the entire island, there was not really any room to extend the runway, which was very short up until the year 2000. A thing that made Madeira airport hard to navigate, so the brazilian construction company Andrade Gutierrez came up with a solution to the problem and build the runway extension on 180 giant pillars, so the runway today is kinda like a giant bridge, sitting on top of the rugged terrain.
And there is plenty of space under the runway at Madeira airport.
Building a runway like that was an enormous feat in itself, but what makes the airport super quirky is that the locals started constructing things directly under the runway and turned the area in to a big recreational complex.
So these days you have tennis courts, a fun fair, a boat years and a traveling circus right below all the airplanes that you can easily hear land and take off, as you are enjoying an ice cream or a fun ride at the fun fair directly beneath. The locals have grown so used to it that when I mentioned to some of the locals working at the fun fair yesterday that it was a bit crazy with all the roaring planes directly above us, they just told me that this is perfectly normal and the planes never come down below the runway anyway 🙂
So if you are heading to Madeira airport, then look a little closer when entering or exiting and you might just catch a glimpse of a tennis game or some kids riding a carousel underneath the runway.