What are Category C airports?

Hire a private jet to destinations that commercial aircraft can’t get to. This is one of the great reasons for smaller charter aircraft. One of the major benefits of private jet charter is that you have access to smaller airports, closer to your final destination, whether it’s a business or leisure flight.

Hire a private jet to a category C airport . However from the pilot’s perspective, some airport landings can be particularly challenging. Airport runways are categorised into three categories: Category A – landing with no special procedures needed. Category B – slightly out of the ordinary circumstances when landing. Category C – runways which can only be landed on by experienced pilots who have had specific simulator training.

One example of a Category C airport in the UK is London City Airport. It’s a relatively short runway in a very tight area, surrounded by buildings – it’s got Canary Wharf at one end. With the buildings being so close to the airport you have a steeper-than-normal approach. So additional training is needed over what we would do for a normal airport.

Category C airports require specific crew and pilot training as they have unusual and often stunning approaches. Pilots may have to consider weather conditions and aircraft performance and are required to have passed specific and specialised training courses which can include ground training, simulator and airborne. Before your private jet flight to any airport we make sure that your crew and aircraft operator have completed the relevant airport training.

European Category C Airports

Innsbruck, Austria

Valley location with high terrain on all sides. Complex non-standard instrument approaches with performance-limited missed approach procedures. Low-level wind shear and turbulence associated with high winds and the terrain, notably in Foehn conditions. Performance-limited landing and take-off weights due to short runway.

The spectacular peaks of the Austrian Alps surround Innsbruck. But those same peaks that attract planes full of skiers every winter are one of Europe’s greatest challenges for pilots. Only captains are permitted to land planes at Innsbruck, located deep in a valley.


Performance-limited landing and take-off weights due to short runway. Abnormal wind effects, turbulence and wind shear due to “rock”. Critical, non-standard visual approaches due to proximity of terrain. The runway at Gibraltar’s airport crosses the main road in and out of the British Overseas Territory.

Bombardier Learjet 75 at Gibraltar Airport

Bombardier Learjet 75 at Gibraltar Airport

Salzburg, Austria

This alternative gateway to the Austrian Alps services ski resorts including Schladming, Obertauern and Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Fieberbrunn. It’s another Category C due to mountainous terrain to the south, making the approach more challenging. Innsbruck is a regular skiers’ airport, offering speedy access to resorts.

High terrain, particularly in the missed approach area. Performance-limited missed approach procedures. Critical, non-standard visual approaches due to the proximity of terrain.

Santorini, Greece 

A narrow, sloped runway. A terrain-rich island environment. Limited/basic instrument approach procedures. Some reliance on visual procedures. Wind shear and turbulence due to terrain and high temperatures.

Sion, Switzerland

A popular airport for private jet flights due to it’s proximity to ski resorts swuch as Verbier. Landing at this little-used airport in the Valais region requires dropping down into a valley with mountains on all sides, hence its Category C status.

It’s also a weather dependent airport, so if it’s not possible to land due to low cloud level, you would have to divert to the nearest airport, which is usually Geneva Airport.

Cessna CJ1 at Sion Airport

Falcona Cessna CJ1 at Sion Airport

The approach is technically very difficult, because the airport is surrounded by Alpine peaks and the descent is steep. However, once safely landed you get speedy access to resorts such as Verbier and Val d’Anniviers.

Chambéry, France

A popular airport for accessing ski areas in the French Alps such as the Trois Vallées, Val d’Isère-Tignes and Paradiski, Chambéry is also a Category C, and described as “a very tricky airfield that requires serious preparations”.

The airport lies at the southern end of Lac du Bourget, with mountainous terrain to the east and west of a plane’s approach, and more high terrain south of the airport.

Of the more than 800 airports across Europe, the vast majority are so-called Category A airports that require standard training for pilots and crew.

Category B airports are defined by having “slightly out of the ordinary” features, while Category C airports—the highest level—require special pilot training which can include ground training, simulator and in the air.

Other Category C airports in Europe:

  • Madeira, Portugal
  • Mykonos, Greece
  • Annecy, France
  • Bern, Switzerland
  • London City, UK
  • Lugano, Switzerland


Please note: Prices shown are estimated prices for charter of whole aircraft – alternative routes, aircraft and airports are also available upon request.

Any additional operational charges that we may incur to operate this quoted schedule, ie Out of Hours (OOHs) and airfield Extensions, Fire Cover Upgrade and AIRCRAFT DE-ICING are not included in this quotation price. This estimated price is subject to availability, slots, traffic rights and schedule.