An airport is an airport, right? Wrong! Every airport has its own idiosyncrasies, foibles and operational challenges. As such, we’ve compiled a top list of what we hope are interesting titbits and trivia on the airports that NATS operates from in the UK and Gibraltar.

If you’ve got your own fab fact, we’d love to hear them.

Manchester Airport was originally known as Ringway Airport. It officially opened on 25 June 1938 and in its first 14 months the airport handled 7,600 passengers – the equivalent of a summer morning’s work today.

Farnborough Airport is the oldest airport in Britain and every two years it hosts the world’s largest commercial air show.

Rumoured to have its very own ghost, Glasgow Airport started life in 1932 as RAF Abbotsinch and then Royal Navy Air Station Sanderling. It was originally planned to be known as Abbotsinch Airport and you can still see that name in stone just outside the tower.

Gibraltar Airport has to deal with a busy road crossing the centre of the runway.

Gibraltar Airport by Taylor Selden

Gibraltar Airport by Taylor Selden via Flickr

The 5.5 degree approach to London City Airport is steeper than most (3 degrees) because of the built up areas around the airport. Operations have to pause when tall ships sail down the Thames and past the end of the runway.

Belfast International Airport is at one with its wildlife neighbours with around 60 hares living on the airfield.  They are a protected species and stars in their own right, appearing on BBC programmes such as The One Show and Springwatch.

Bristol Airport’s main runway is 2011 metres long and has a distinctive hump at the western end. During the Second World War it was used to practice bad weather landings.

Gatwick is the busiest single runway airport in the world, handling 250,000 movements per annum, with a record breaking 55 declared per hour.

Aberdeen Airport is also the world’s busiest heliport. Its offshore operation covers airspace from Norwich all the way up and around the UK eastern seaboard to boundaries with Norway and Iceland.

Luton Airport is the busiest business and General Aviation airport in the UK and the third busiest GA airport in Europe.

Stansted Airport’s Enhanced Contingency Visual Control Room means that in the event of an evacuation of the control tower, operations can continue with full facilities available.

Edinburgh Airport by Papaj0e via Flickr

Edinburgh Airport by Papaj0e via Flickr

Edinburgh Airport is the fifth busiest in the UK, with aircraft movements of 120,000 per annum. The furthest destination served is New York (Newark).

Cardiff Airport’s radar room provides radar services covering South Wales, Bristol and South West England.

Birmingham is situated next door to the National Exhibition Centre; the airport serves a variety of major events, everything from Crufts to Beyoncé.

Heathrow Airport is the busiest two runway airport anywhere in the world, handling 1,350 aircraft every day.

Southampton Airport serves 12 airlines and tour operators flying to 44 destinations. Aircraft using Southampton include Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, Embraer 195, Embraer 175, Jetstream 41, Jetstream 31, Britten Norman Trislander, Saab 2000, Dehavilland Twin Otter and the occasional A319 and B757.


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Blackpool Airport In 1909 flying began in Blackpool, at the same time that the great French aviator Louis Bleriot was making the first historic crossing of the English Channel. Britain’s first official major air show, officially recognised by the Royal Aero Club, was held in Blackpool at Squires Gate. More than 200,000 spectators gathered to watch pilots in their flying machines give breath-taking displays.



Umar Hafeez

What about Bradford-Leeds international? Howcome its not called Harrogate airport. You can get between from Braford to Leeds via the route to Bradford but that is not the normal route (which is via Pudsey). If you actually do not deviate you will end up in Harrogate. It will also be interesting to know which airports are actually operating at a profit and which ones are at a loss rather than just the most successful ones.




There must be an error, to quote: Gatwick “7,600 passengers – the equivalent of a summer morning’s work today.”, Heathrow: “busiest two runway airport anywhere in the world, handling 1,350 aircraft every day”. According to these figures, Gatwick handles roughly 11 times the number of aircraft a day in Summer than Heathrow. Surely not!


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