Flightradar24 Blog

All about the Falkland Islands and its airports

Share this article

Yesterday a Lufthansa A350-900 completed an ultra long-haul flight from Hamburg to Mt. Pleasant, in the Falkland Islands. The 15 hour 37 minute flight was Lufthansa’s longest ever. The plane will be heading back to Germany tomorrow, as LH2575. Sadly this isn’t destined to become a regularly scheduled route (wouldn’t that be something.) But it did make us curious to look a little deeper into aviation in the Falklands – and for such a small place, there’s a lot going on there.

Lufthansa A350 landing Falkland Islands Mt Pleasant
Lufthansa’s A350 after landing at Mt. Pleasant in the Falkland Islands yesterday. Photo: Falkland Islands Government

Easily within range for the A350

In fact as ultra long-hauls go, this flight was only mildly impressive. It was a record-setter for Lufthansa, but these days it’s not uncommon to see airlines doing 19- or 20-hour flights with their A350s. However the fact that this was headed to the Falklands (the first leg for a group of scientists making their way to Antarctica) caught the attention of many an aviation enthusiast.

Mt. Pleasant Airport (MPN) is also known as “RAF Mt. Pleasant,” so-called because it’s a Royal Air Force base. Just the mention of the Falkland Islands is sure to set off a volley of political arguments, and the fact of this being a British air base probably doesn’t help.

For the uninitiated, Argentina claims these islands as their own, and refers to them as Las Malvinas. There was a war fought over them in the 1980s. It’s a messy dispute that mostly simmers quietly under the surface, usually until someone mentions the islands in conversation. It’s surprisingly sensitive for a place with a total population only just slightly more than 3,000 people.

Falkland Islands RAF Mt. Pleasant Airbus A400M
An Airbus A400M at RAF Mt. Pleasant (MPN) in the Falkland Islands

All about Mt. Pleasant Airport

Mt. Pleasant Airport may be an air force base, but it also sees scheduled commercial flights. That’s because it has by far the longest runways on the island – with an 8497-foot (2590-meter) strip that can handle just about any type of aircraft. Scheduled flights to MPN are relatively few in number these days. With normal non-pandemic schedules in effect it’s generally possible to fly with LATAM to Mt. Pleasant from Chile and Brazil.

The longest-running flight is the link with Punta Arenas in Chile, although that hasn’t operated in some time. LATAM has this flight back in their schedule once a week starting in April, although the Falkland Islands Government has stated these won’t start back up again until late June (thanks to Ronnie MB for pointing this out). Flight time on the A320 to Punta Arenas, whenever it does start up again, is about an hour and a half.

LATAM flight path Mt Pleasant Falkland islands Punta Arenas Chile
A typical routing between Mt. Pleasant and Punta Arenas, as seen on Flightradar24.

Military “Airbridge” flights between the UK and the Falklands

Mt. Pleasant is also the destination for a special flight known as the “airbridge” operated by AirTanker in cooperation with the British Ministry of Defence. It departs RAF Brize Norton (BZZ) in England and heads to Mt. Pleasant, normally via a stop somewhere along the way. In the past Ascension Island has been the go-to tech stop. Lately it seems the planes mostly route through Dakar.

AirTanker A330-200 G-VYGM Falklands airbridge
AirTanker’s A330-200 (G-VYGM) is a regular visitor to the Falkland Islands.

These flights have actually been flown nonstop, although that doesn’t seem to be a regular occurrence. Last year AirTanker ran a handful of nonstop proving flights on one of its A330-200s, G-VYGM, between Brize Norton and Mt. Pleasant. The southbound flight was 15 hours 9 minutes long – just a little bit shorter than yesterday’s Lufthansa flight. As it happens, G-VYGM is on the ground at Mt. Pleasant as we speak, having come in from Brize Norton and Dakar on February 1.

One of two Falklands airports (plus several airstrips)

The Falklands has another main airport not too far (30 miles as the crow flies) from Mt. Pleasant, at Port Stanley (PSY). Stanley is the main population center and capital of the Falklands. However the longest runway is just 3,013 feet (918 meters), so scheduled flights stick to MPN.

Port Stanley Airport 1985
An aerial shot of Port Stanley Airport taken in 1985.

Its airport is used mainly for short runs around the Falklands to airstrips serving remote communities. The Falkland Islands Government Air Service is the main player here – it does double duty running Britten-Norman BN-2 Islanders on mostly unscheduled civilian flights as well as running surveillance and maritime patrol around the territory. Port Stanley also occasionally sees flights to and from British research stations in Antarctica, and helicopter services out to the Zebedee Oil Rig.

A place for the travel wishlist

It’s not easy or cheap to get to the Falkland Islands, especially from the Northern Hemisphere. However it would clearly be worth the effort, especially for anyone interested in aviation. I’ll be adding this to my list of places to go once we can all move around freely again. And I’ll be doing everything I can to catch a flight on one of those Islanders.

Featured image © Daniel Nicholson
On The Radar Logo

Get the latest aviation news delivered to you

Get the latest aviation news delivered to you

Flight tracking and aviation industry news direct to your inbox

Aviation news comes quickly, so join more than 600,000 others who receive weekly aviation industry and flight tracking news from Flightradar24 direct to their inbox.

Share this article

Useful flight tracking glossary

View our glossary of terms which you may encounter either on our site or in aviation in general that we hope enriches your flight tracking experience.

About Flightradar24

Flightradar24 is a global flight tracking service that provides you with real-time information about thousands of aircraft around the world.

Don't miss out on the latest Flightradar24 videos!

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to see our latest videos as soon as they’re published!

Latest video
On The Radar Logo
Get weekly updates on Flightradar24 and have the latest aviation news land in your inbox.
AvTalk Logo

AvTalk Episode 200: Boeing earnings and arraignment, NTSB comments again

How flight tracking works

Flightradar24 combines data from several data sources including ADS-B, MLAT and radar data.
Search the blog
Trending articles
Follow us
Latest AvTalk Podcasts

Video: Flight deck to Madeira on the Lufthansa A320neo!

In this video we ride along on the A320neo flight deck to Funchal in Madeira – one Europe’s most difficult landings, famous for its unpredictable winds and remarkable runway stretched over the sea on top of massive support beams.

Related news

Tracking Santa’s Flight with Flightradar24

Santa’s elves are putting the finishing touches on the toys and the ground crew is readying the sleigh. Rudolph’s anti-collision beacon red nose has received a polish as well. With the work nearly complete, Santa is ready for tracking on Flightradar24.com or in the Flightradar24 iOS and Android app!

Flight tracking top 10 aircraft

Explore the top 10 most tracked aircraft and find out why these particular aircraft draw so much interest.

Help to grow our flight tracking coverage

We are continually looking to improve our flight tracking and the airports below are where new receivers will add the most coverage. Apply for a receiver today and if accepted you’ll receiver a free Flightradar24 Business Subscription.

Free ADS-B Receiver
Flightradar24 logo
Try the full Flightradar24 experience free for 7 days
Remove ads and unlock over 50 additional features
On The Radar Logo

Get the Flightradar24 Aviation newsletter

Flight tracking and aviation industry news direct to your inbox

Aviation news comes quickly, so we want to bring more of the aviation world to you with our weekly Flightradar24 aviation newsletter - On The Radar.

On The Radar Logo