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  • Writer's pictureGunnar Garfors

Truly International Airports Sprawling More Than One Country

Geneva in the background, France on this side of the runway. Creative commons licensed photo by Dr. Bernd Gross.

How to make people even more confused about international air travel? And to create additional nightmares for border control guards, while you are at it?

Establish an airport that is actually based in two, or even three, countries.

Yeah, whatever! Would anyone do something as stupid? Or as smart? You will after all save space and create synergies between town and cities in several countries.

There are actually six airports in the world that sprawl more than one country. The most schizophrenic one actually serves three countries. That’s a truly international airport for you.

EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg

You can even tell by the slightly geographically confusing name; EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg.

Basel is in Switzerland.

Mulhouse is in France.

Freiburg is in Germany.

The runway is actually located in France, but there are two customs areas, one Swiss and one French. Which country you leave from or enter into depends on the airline. The airport is furthermore only 4 kilometers from the German border and serves that country too. You can technically cross the border inside the airport terminal as long as you have a valid passport or an ID card. Crossing between the carparks outside the terminal is however not possible. And as if that wasn’t complicated enough, the airport even has three IATA airport codes, you know those three letter codes you see on checked in luggage. BSL is for Basil, MLH is for Mulhouse and EAP is for Freiburg, according to Confusing? The luggage handlers must think so.

Geneva International Airport

The Swiss and the French must like the idea of sharing airports. Also the airport of Geneva in Switzerland can be accessed from both both countries, but the airport is physically located in Geneva. But only a few meters from France. Parts of the runway and the border line actually run in parallell. Sort of. The airport does however only have one IATA code: GVA. It is also by far the busiest airport of the six mentioned here, counting almost 14 million passengers annually, according to Wikipedia.

4 airports in USA and Canada

There are also four smaller airports in both the US and Canada. All four are rather small and they have unusal IATA callsign consisting of two digits and a letter. None of them have scheduled air traffic.

Piney Pinecreek Border Airport (48Y) was originally located only in the US, but a needed runway extension was only possible by expanding into the neighbouring country to the north.

Del Bonita/Whetstone International Airport (H28) will see you take off on the US-Canadian border, but your aircraft can park on either side of the border.

Coronach/Scobey International Airport (8U3) is owned by both the two governments. You can land there, but only during the opening times of the border crossing, and only after giving at least two hours notice. Sounds convenient.

And finally Avey Field State Airport (69S) is a small privately owned and operated, yet unattended airport. It is located in the state of Washington and the province of British Colombia in western North America. The airport recommends that you do an overflight of the airport to rule out possible obstructions such as people, vehicles or animals. May I suggest that you bring a camera for that prize winning black bear photo?

Any others?

Did I miss any truly international airports? Please let me know.

Tijuana Airport in Mexico, a few meters across the border from San Diego, is set to open a US terminal in 2014. In the meantime, see that none of the top ten air routes in the world are in North America on Europe.

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