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Bristol Airport

Bristol International Airport

In 1927 a group of local Bristol businessmen managed to raise £6,000 through public subscriptions to inaugurate a flying club at Filton Aerodrome, which became the birthplace of Concorde.

Airport Code: BIA


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In 1929 these pioneers had attracted so much interest in their project that they became more ambitious and decided to develop a fully-fledged airport for Bristol. An area of farmland at Whitchurch was bought and the new airport began.

1930 saw the official opening of Bristol Airport in May by HRH Prince George. During this period Bristol was only the third civil airport in the country.

Whitchurch developed slowly with passenger numbers of 935 in 1930 increasing to 4,000 by 1939. With the outbreak of the war the airport was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and had the distinction of being the only civil airport in operation in the U.K.

Imperial Airways, KLM and others were transferred from London's Croydon Airport to Whitchurch. Flights were operated to Lisbon with links to the United States via the Azores. The comings and goings of statesmen, spies, film stars and other were shrouded in secrecy, but Winston Churchill and Amy Johnson certainly used the Airport during this period.

In 1994 / 95 Bristol Airport's freight facility, was relocated to a site in Avonmouth. The new facility situated close to the M4 / M5 interchange was suitably located to take advantage of the increasing amount of freight travelling to the South West from Heathrow by road.

In 1996/97  Bristol Airport was put up for sale by Bristol City Council. The way, in which the council could obtain funding meant that the airport could not start building, is much needed new terminal. With passenger figures reaching 1.4 million the terminal building had already started to exceed it's capacity.

In March 1997 saw the re-launch of Bristol Airport to Bristol International. This move re-instated the airport's plans for growth. December 97 the airport was sold. 51% was owned by FirstGroup, the remaining 49% still belonged to Bristol City Council.

March 3rd 2000 the New Terminal was opened by HRH the Princess Royal and flights started using the new building. The old terminal building closed to the public and was converted to offices for many of the staff.

November 2001 saw the conclusion of a major 5 year project to bring all weather landing equipment (Category 3) to the Airport. Bristol International is the only Airport in South-West and Wales with the capability for suitably equipped aircraft to land safely in poor visibility.

The final part of the huge capital investment programme took place on Wednesday 5th December when the £3.5 million air traffic control tower went live. Equipped with the very latest technology, the fabulous new building offers spectacular views of the whole runway and Airport operation. It is estimated that Bristol International will handle 2.8 million passengers this year.

In February 2002 Bristol International Airport was officially the fastest growing airport in the UK, with a year on year passenger increase of 44.5%.


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