Is Ukraine’s Donetsk Airport “abandoned in the ocean”?

In December 2021, an online advertisement claimed to show a photo of a crumbling airport that had been “abandoned in the ocean”. The ad read: “Once a crowded airport, it is now completely abandoned in the ocean.

This ad was misleading and appeared to be a click trap.

The announcement seemed to suggest that a huge abandoned airport was collapsing and possibly going slowly underwater.

Ukraine

A simple reverse image search on Google showed that the airport in the photo was Donetsk Sergei Prokofiev International Airport in Ukraine, which was not located anywhere near the ocean. The photo appears to have been originally taken by a Reuters photographer, according to the BBC.

In 2015, the Atlantic reported that the airport had been “completely destroyed” the previous year. It suffered extensive damage during bombing raids during violent clashes in the region.

Donetsk Sergei Prokofiev International Airport has not been completely abandoned in the ocean, as an online advertisement suggests.
A photo taken on February 7, 2015 shows a destroyed tank and plane at Sergei Prokofiev International Airport in Donetsk. (Credit: AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET)

In February 2021, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy plans announced for a new airport that would serve the Donetsk region.

Johnston Atoll Airport

The announcement in question gave rise to a 40-page slideshow article on the Discovery Time website.

While the Ukrainian airport photograph was a deceptive click-trap, Discovery Time’s long history mentioned at least one abandoned airport that was truly surrounded by hundreds of miles of ocean in all directions.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Johnston Atoll Airport is located in the Pacific Ocean “approximately 717 nautical miles west-southwest of Hawaii”. It is also visible on Google Maps.

The EPA has published that it is currently “under [U.S.] Air Force ownership and control. On the same page, he also mentioned that its “military history began before WWII and continued until the island was decommissioned in 2004” and that “at one point more 1,200 servicemen and military contractors lived on Johnston Atoll ”.

Abandoned Disney World ‘Airport’

Another “airport” featured in the 40-page article was named Lake Buena Vista Airport, better known as the abandoned “airport” of the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

We have previously reported that the old Lake Buena Vista STOLport (“short take-off and landing”) was probably best described as an airstrip. It only allowed small planes and did not have the large buildings often associated with large airports.

An airport that once existed at Walt Disney World is now abandoned.
This aerial view shows that the airport was actually just an airstrip.

It opened in 1971 and saw its last flights in the 1980s. In 2021, it is simply a private road that appeared to be used for storage.

In summary, an advertisement showed a photo of a completely abandoned airport in Ukraine while falsely claiming that it was surrounded by the ocean. For this reason, we have classified this claim as “Miscaptioned”.

Snopes demystifies a wide range of content, and online ads are no exception. Deceptive ads often lead to obscure websites that host long slideshow articles with lots of pages. This is called advertising “arbitrage”. The advertiser’s goal is to make more money from the ads displayed on the slideshow pages than it cost to display the initial ad that attracted them to it. Please feel free to submit any ads to us and make sure to include a screenshot of the ad and the link to where the ad leads.

Sources:

“Abandoned airports”. Discovery time, https://www.discoverytime.com/history/abandoned-airports-around-the-world.

“Does Walt Disney World have an abandoned airport? ” Snopes.com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/abandoned-airport-disney-world/.

“President: It is planned to start construction of an airport in Donbass this year. ” Official website of the President of Ukraine, https://www.president.gov.ua/en/news/glava-derzhavi-cogorich-planuyetsya-rozpochati-zvedennya-aer-66681.

Taylor, Alain. A year of war completely destroyed Donetsk airport – the Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/photo/2015/02/a-year-of-war-completely-destroyed-the-donetsk-airport/386204/.

Tennessee Vagrant. Johnston Island Postcard. April 9, 2008. Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/tnwanderer/2400465270/.

“Ukrainian rebels dream of a new Russia.” BBC News, October 23, 2014. www.bbc.com, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-29721466.

US EPA, REG 09. Corrective action at Johnston Atoll. October 24, 2018, https://www.epa.gov/pi/corrective-action-johnston-atoll.


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