On Monday 2nd May 2016, Glasgow Airport turned 50. To celebrate we teamed up with our friends at WestJet and Nova Scotia tourism to surprise passengers flying on the first flight of the season to Halifax, Nova Scotia with presents.
Imagine checking in for a flight and being surprised with a food tour of Halifax, dinner for two with wine at Five Fisherman restaurant in Halifax, a private tour of Peggy’s Cove, a gift certificate for Clearwater Lobster, UpperDeck lounge passes, airport shopping vouchers or indeed 2 complimentary WestJet flights to Halifax! It happened to these passengers and we captured their reactions…
It’s 2016 and Glasgow Airport kicks off its 50th anniversary year as both Scottish Airport of the Year and UK Airport of the Year.
What’s more, the airport starts this very special year in a position of real strength, having reported its largest-ever annual increase in passenger numbers after more than 8.7 million passengers travelled through its doors in 2015, representing an annual increase of 13% – over one million additional passengers.
As Glasgow Airport moves into the next phase of its history, we look back at some of the highlights of the last 50 years.
So where did it all start? Glasgow Airport as we know it today was officially opened by HM The Queen on June 27, 1966. It was a great occasion with all the leading local dignitaries out in force to watch the Queen unveil a commemorative plaque.
But its history can be traced back to 1932 when an airfield was established at nearby Abbotsinch to accommodate the RAF, which also had a base at Renfrew. In 1943, the airfield was named HMS Sanderling when the Royal Navy took it over although the Royal Auxiliary Air Force 602 was based there. Abbotsinch eventually replaced Renfrew as Glasgow’s airport and by December 1966 it had been used by around one million passengers. Numbers continued to grow and, in 1973, the runway was extended to meet demand and accommodate larger aircraft. Just two years later, the airport’s ownership transferred from Glasgow Corporation to the British Airport Authority. Investment and expansion followed and by 1986 passenger numbers had reached the four million mark. As package holidays became more popular further expansion was required and, in 1989, the airport embarked on a significant terminal development programme. It was in 1990, however, when the rules changed allowing transatlantic traffic to use Glasgow Airport, that the scene was set for further major growth. A new international pier became operational in 1994, providing more space for the airlines that decided to choose Glasgow as their Scottish long-haul base. With long-haul traffic building – indeed, Glasgow is now Scotland’s principal long-haul airport – attention turned to the low-cost airlines with easyJet making aviation history when its first-ever flight – from Luton to Glasgow – landed on November 10, 1995. Growth continued and October 2008 saw a £31 million terminal extension opened. Subsequent investment in excess of £25m during 2014-15 has created one of the most modern airports in the UK.
With 30 airlines serving more than 120 destinations worldwide, including Canada, the US, the Caribbean, Europe and the Gulf, Glasgow serves more Scottish destinations than any other airport and is also Scotland’s largest charter hub.
Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport and chief executive of AGS Airports Limited, a partnership between Ferrovial and Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets (MIRA) established in 2014 to invest in Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, is excited about the future.
“We’ve had an amazing and eventful 50 years so far,” she said. “No two days are the same at Glasgow Airport and with passenger numbers continuing to grow, we are now on a trajectory towards achieving 10 million. “Further investment is planned this year as we resurface the runway and make further improvements both internally and externally.”