Airport Ferries

On January 10, 2012 · 6 Comments

I’ve mentioned my strangely popular ferry pages before. They receive lots of search engine referrals in a bit of a chicken-and-the-egg manner: did the site’s success create higher rankings on search engine algorithms or did search engines create the site’s popularity, or a bit of both in a ratcheting cycle? I dunno (frankly not going to put much thought into it either). I do know that a random search lodged in my files sparked this article and that’s all that really matters.

It read simply, "airport ferry."

I know of several airport ferries right off the top of my head. If my memory serves me, Hong Kong and Saint Martin have ferries either co-located or nearby. Even Boston’s Logan Airport has a ferry although I wonder how many people actually use it? I take the T or a taxi depending on traffic.

Let’s make this a bit more challenging. Are there airports where a ferry ride is the only option? Sure, I suppose a helicopter might always be an option but let’s set that aside. Most of us don’t have those kinds of resources available to us. Where would a traveler get stuck at the airport, unable to reach the primary town serviced by the airport if a ferry wasn’t available?

There are a few places like that.

Prince Rupert, BC, Canada



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Prince Rupert is located on Kaien Island. It’s also connected to mainland British Columbia by the Yellowhead Highway. Air service is a completely different story. Prince Rupert Airport is located on nearby Digby Island which has no outside road connections. Instead, the City of Prince Rupert operates a Digby Island Ferry. The trip last about twenty minutes as it crosses the harbour and the price is included in airfare.

Ketchikan, AK, USA



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One doesn’t need to travel very far to find another instance, just 100 miles (160 km.) towards the northwest to Ketchikan, Alaska. Ketchikan is located on Revillagigedo Island and the Ketchikan International Airport is located across a straight on Gravina Island. The primary difference between the situation in Ketchikan and Prince Rupert is that Ketchikan is landlocked. Otherwise it’s essentially the same. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough operates a ferry that runs on a half-hour cycle.


Palin nowhere
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

You may have heard of this ferry location before. It was the proposed site of the Gravina Island Bridge, the so-called "Bridge to Nowhere" that would have cost $398 million and became an enduring symbol of pork barrel politics instead. It was portrayed in the media as a bridge for the 50 residents of Gravina Island. That’s a bit simplified. Actually it was intended to replace the ferry and connect Ketchikan to its airport. That would have benefited 8,000 residents rather than 50. Still, it works out to about $50,000 per resident. I’ll let others decide wither the benefits of a bridge would have outweighed the costs. We know what 12MC’s (potential but probably not) secret admirer thought about the situation.


Toronto, ON, Canada



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Toronto is a completely different example. Toronto Pearson International Airport — the city’s primary airport — is totally accessible through the road network. Rather it’s the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport that requires a ferry. Unlike Ketchikan, there has actually been fierce opposition to a possible bridge connecting the city airport to the mainland. It might make the airport more convenient and thereby increase its popularity, resulting in greater noise and air pollution. Thus travelers desiring the convenience of a downtown runway are required use The Toronto Island Ferry after they disembark to cross a whopping 122 meters (400 ft.) of open water.


Malé, Maldives



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I knew about the other three examples already. I found the situation in the Maldives after a quick web search. Visitors wishing to get from Ibrahim Nasir International Airport on Hulhulé Island to the nearby capital on the island of Malé likewise need a ferry. I don’t know much more about it other than it looks really cool and the population density on Malé is unbelievable. Check out a closeup view in Satellite mode.

I’m sure there are plenty of other examples out there for the 12MC audience to find. Once again, I’m interested in airports where riding a ferry is the only reasonable alternative to access the cities they serve.

On January 10, 2012 · 6 Comments

6 Responses to “Airport Ferries”

  1. Richard Potton says:

    Hi, long time lurker, first time poster. I can’t add to the list of airports but i can perhaps expand the mode of transportation. Dartmouth railway station in England was a station without tracks. The line stopped on the east bank of the river dart and a ferry was provided to cross the river to the station.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dartmouth_railway_station
    Sadly, the station has closed and is now a cafe.
    Richard

  2. Ethan says:

    Add Bora Bora Airport in Tahiti to the list. All resorts and hotels provide shuttles directly to their own docks, and there is one ferry that goes into “town” on a schedule. Sidenote: the airport, also known as Motu Mute Airport, has a fun IATA code: BOB.

  3. Calgully says:

    Two in Australia:

    Hamilton Island airport serves holiday resorts on neighbouring islands – connected by ferry from the airport ferry terminal

    http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&ll=-20.353479,148.953066&spn=0.041282,0.0842&t=m&z=14&vpsrc=6

    Ferry timetable showing flight connections – http://www.fantasea.com.au/page/ferrytimetable/index.html

    Thursday Island airport in Torres Strait is in fact not on Thursday Island – but on Horn island – connected by ferry.

    http://maps.google.com.au/maps?hl=en&ll=-10.599196,142.263851&spn=0.08656,0.1684&t=m&z=13&vpsrc=6

    Ferry Timetable showing Qantas flight connections – http://www.tiferry.com.au/FERRY-TIMETABLE.7.0.html

  4. Leo says:

    Toronto’s Island Airport ferry is the shortest regularly scheduled ferry in the world. The length of the ship is nearly 1/3 of the distance it travels!

  5. Fritz Keppler says:

    Another distinction of the Ketchikan airport, true at least when I was there in 1996, is that anyone who wishes to rent a vehicle in the city, even after arriving by Alaska Marine Highway ship, is obliged to take the ferry to the airport, pick up the car, and ride it back to the island where the city is located. Because of tides, the ferry can arrive at odd hours, as mine did, shortly before midnight. So I had to hang around the ferry landing till 6:30 in the morning when the ferry started to operate (the first trip was for airport employees only). A policeman (on a bicycle) asked what I was doing, but my explanation of having arrived on the ferry and waiting to pick up a rental car was good enough. The Marine Highway and airport ferry landings were very close to one another.

    And, of course, the vehicle could only be returned at the airport.

  6. iskionrocks says:

    The Akutan Aiport is under construction and will make use of a hovercraft to transport passengers from the runway on Akun Island to Akutan Island. http://dot.alaska.gov/creg/akutan/

    For quite a while the small city has been accessed by amphibious aircraft such as the grumman goose
    http://www.ktuu.com/news/ktuu-aleutian-goose-the-last-commercial-flight-009,0,5834196.photo

    http://www.wdaguy.com/goose.html
    which is a bit of a airplane/ferry…

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