Glasgow Airport

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For similarly named airports, see Glasgow Airport (disambiguation).
Glasgow Airport
Port-adhair Eadar-nàiseanta Ghlaschu
Airport type Public
Owner AGS Airports
Operator Glasgow Airport Limited
Serves Glasgow, Scotland
Location Greater Glasgow
Elevation AMSL 26 ft / 8 m
Coordinates 55°52′19″N 004°25′59″W / 55.87194°N 4.43306°W / 55.87194; -4.43306Coordinates: 55°52′19″N 004°25′59″W / 55.87194°N 4.43306°W / 55.87194; -4.43306
EGPF is located in Renfrewshire
Location of airport in Renfrewshire
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 2,665 8,743 Grooved Asphalt
Statistics (2013)
Passengers 7,710,679
Passenger change 13-14 Increase4.8%
Aircraft Movements 79,520
Movements change 12-13 Decrease1.2%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Location from Glasgow Airport[3]

Glasgow Airport (Scottish Gaelic: Port-adhair Eadar-nàiseanta Ghlaschu, also Glasgow International Airport, IATA: GLA[4]ICAO: EGPF), formerly Glasgow Abbotsinch Airport, is an international airport in Scotland, located 6 nautical miles (11 km; 6.9 mi) west[1] of Glasgow city centre. In 2014 the airport handled over 7.7 million passengers, a 4.8% annual increase, making it the second busiest in Scotland, after Edinburgh Airport, and the eighth busiest airport in the United Kingdom. It is the primary airport serving the Greater Glasgow conurbation and is the principal transatlantic and direct longhaul entry airport into Scotland.

The airport is owned and operated by AGS Airports which also owns and operates Aberdeen and Southampton Airports. It was previously owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly known as BAA).[5] The airport's largest tenants are British Airways and Loganair (currently franchising using Flybe), the latter using it as a hub. Other major airlines using GLA as a base include Flybe, EasyJet, Jet2, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways.

Glasgow Airport was first opened in 1966 and originally flights only operated to other places in the United Kingdom and Europe. The British Airports Authority (BAA) took control of the airport in 1975 and when BAA was privatised in the 1980s, Glasgow Airport began to offer flights to other places around the world, flights which previously used Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which was subsequently relegated as the city's secondary airport catering for low cost airlines, freight and charter operators.


The history of the present Glasgow Airport goes back to 1932, when the site at Abbotsinch, between the Black Cart Water and the White Cart Water, near Paisley in Renfrewshire, was opened and the Royal Air Force 602 Squadron (City of Glasgow) Auxiliary Air Force moved its Wapiti IIA aircraft from nearby Renfrew in January 1933.[6] The RAF Station HQ, however, was not formed until 1 July 1936 when 6 Auxiliary Group, Bomber Command, arrived.[6] From May 1939, until moving away in October 1939, the Squadron flew the Supermarine Spitfire.


In 1940, a torpedo training unit was formed, which trained both RAF and Royal Navy crews.[6] On 11 August 1943 Abbotsinch was handed over solely to the Royal Navy and it became a naval base. All Her Majesty's Ships and naval bases are given ship names and Abbotsinch's was known as HMS Sanderling since June 1940.[6] During the 1950s, the airfield housed a large aircraft storage unit and squadrons of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

The Royal Navy left in October 1963.[6] The name Sanderling was however retained as a link between the two: HMS Sanderling's ship's bell was presented to the new airport and a bar in the airport was named The Sanderling Bar.


In the 1960s, Glasgow Corporation decided that a new airport for the city was required. The original site of Glasgow's main airport was 3 km (1.9 mi) east of Abbotsinch, in what is now the Dean Park area of Renfrew. The original Art Deco terminal building of Renfrew Airport has not survived. The site is now occupied by a Tesco supermarket and the M8 motorway; this straight and level section of motorway occupies the site of the runway.[7]

Abbotsinch took over from Renfrew airport on 2 May 1966.[6][7] The UK Government had already committed millions into rebuilding Prestwick Airport fit for the "jet age". Nevertheless, the plan went forward and the new airport, designed by Basil Spence and built at a cost of £4.2 million, was completed in 1966, with British European Airways beginning services using De Havilland Comet aircraft.

The first commercial flight to arrive was a British European Airways flight from Edinburgh, landing at 8 am on 2 May 1966. The airport was officially opened on 27 June 1966 by Queen Elizabeth II. The political rows over Glasgow and Prestwick airports continued, with Prestwick enjoying a monopoly over transatlantic traffic, while Glasgow Airport was only allowed to handle UK and intra-European traffic.

1970s to 1990s[edit]

In 1975, the BAA took ownership of Glasgow Airport. When BAA was privatised in the late 1980s, as BAA plc, it consolidated its airport portfolio and sold Prestwick Airport. The restrictions on Glasgow Airport were lifted and the transatlantic operators immediately moved from Prestwick, Glasgow Airport being renamed Glasgow International Airport. BAA embarked on a massive redevelopment plan for Glasgow International Airport in 1989.

An extended terminal building was created by building a pre-fabricated metal structure around the front of the original Basil Spence building, hence screening much of its distinctive Brutalist style architecture from view, with the void between the two structures joined by a glass atrium and walkway. Spence's original concrete facade which once looked onto Caledonia Road now fronts the check-in desks. The original building can be seen more clearly from the rear, with the mock barrel vaulted roof visible when airside.

A dedicated international departure lounge and pier was added at the western side of the building, leaving the facility with a total of 38 gates, bringing its capacity up to nine million passengers per year. In 2003, BAA completed redevelopment work on a satellite building (called "T2", formerly the St. Andrews Building), in order to provide a dedicated check-in facility for low cost airlines, principally Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines.

By 1996, Glasgow was handling over 5.5 million passengers per annum, making it the fourth largest airport in the UK.[8]


Tail fins at the international pier

The terminal has three piers: West (International), Central (Domestic) and East (Low-cost, Ireland & Scottish islands).

The Central Pier, which was part of the original 1966 building, is now used for domestic destinations. British Airways is based in the 1971 extension to the end of the pier, with Heathrow and Gatwick shuttles making up most of its traffic. There is a BA Executive Club lounge. Flybe also use the Central Pier.

The East Pier, constructed in the mid-1970s, was originally used for international flights but in recent years has been redeveloped for use by EasyJet and Loganair as well as some charters. Most flights to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland also use this pier. None of the stands on this pier are provided with airbridges. The major users of this pier are Aer Lingus, Loganair and EasyJet.

The West Pier, built as part of the 1989 extension project, is the principal international and long haul departure point, with some gates capable of handling Boeing 747 aircraft. The largest aircraft currently regularly using the airport are the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. On 10 April 2014, the airport for the first time hosted the Airbus A380 on a special one-off Emirates flight to Dubai to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the route.[9]

Work commenced in late 2007,[10] on Skyhub (located between the Main Terminal and Terminal 2)[11] which created a single, purpose built security screening area in place of the previous individual facilities for each of the three piers, the other side effect being an enlargened duty-free shopping area created by taking most of the previous landside shopping and restaurant facilities airside. This new arrangement also frees up space in the departure lounges through the removal of the separate duty-free shops in the West and Central Piers. The side effect of this however is that the former public viewing areas of the apron are now airside, making the airport inaccessible to aviation enthusiasts and spectators.

Further growth is hampered by the airport's location, which is constrained by the M8 motorway to the south, the town of Renfrew to the east and the River Clyde to the north. At present the areas of Clydebank, Bearsden and Linwood all sit directly underneath the approach paths into the airport, meaning that further increases in traffic may be politically sensitive. The facility has also been challenged in recent years from Edinburgh Airport, which now serves wider range of European routes, growing to overtake Glasgow as Scotland's busiest airport although Glasgow retains the edge on transatlantic and long haul routes thanks to its longer runway which can accommodate very large aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and Airbus A340. The Scottish Executive announced in 2002 that a rail line - known as the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) - would be built from Glasgow Central station to Glasgow Airport. The rail link was to be completed by 2012 with the first trains running early in 2013. In 2009, however, it was announced by the Scottish Government that the plan had been cancelled.[12]

Currently, the airport is easily accessed by road due to the adjoining M8 motorway and is served by a frequent and dedicated express bus (the "Glasgow Flyer") from the city centre. The service is run by First Glasgow under contract to BAA.

The airport is home to the Scottish regional airline Loganair, currently a Flybe franchise operator, who have their head office located on site.[13] British Airways has a maintenance hangar at the airport, capable of carrying out overhaul work on Airbus A320, as well as a cargo facility.

The Royal Air Force also has a unit based within the airport - The Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron - to provide flying training to university students who plan to join the RAF.

In 2007, Glasgow became the second busiest airport in Scotland as passenger numbers were surpassed by those at Edinburgh Airport.

Icelandair temporarily moved its base of operations from Keflavík International Airport to Glasgow due to the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull.

In October 2014, Heathrow Airport Holdings reached an agreement to sell the airport, together with Southampton and Aberdeen, to a consortium of Ferrovial and Macquarie Group for £1 billion.[14]


In 2005 BAA published a consultation paper[15] for the development of the airport. The consultation paper included proposals for a second runway parallel to and to the north-west of the existing runway 05/23; redevelopment and enlargement of the East (low-cost) pier to connect directly with Terminal 2; and an additional International Pier to the west of the existing International Pier. There were plans for a new rail terminal, joined to the airport's passenger terminal and multi-storey car park. On 29 November 2006 the Scottish Parliament gave the go-ahead for the new railway station as part of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link to Glasgow Central station, originally due for completion in 2011. However on 17 September 2009, due to escalating costs, the project was cancelled by the Scottish Government.[16]

BAA's plans, which are expected to cost some £290 million over the next 25 years, come in response to a forecasted trebling of annual passenger numbers passing through the airport by 2030. The current figure of 7.1 million passengers passing through the airport is expected to rise to more than 24 million by 2030.

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Cork, Donegal, Dublin 1
Air Transat Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary, Vancouver
Air Malta Seasonal: Malta 1
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas 1
British Airways London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow 1
British Airways
operated by BA Cityflyer
Seasonal charter: Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Menorca, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Venice-Marco Polo
operated by Van Air Europe
Isle of Man 1
easyJet Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast-International, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bristol, Faro, Jersey, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted, Málaga, Marrakech, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Bordeaux (begins 29 June 2015),[17] Geneva, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Split
Emirates Dubai-International 1
Flybe Belfast-City, Birmingham, Bournemouth (begins 29 March 2015),[18] Cardiff (begins 2 June 2015),[19] East Midlands, Manchester, Southampton
Seasonal: Jersey (begins 2 May 2015)
operated by Loganair
Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Leeds/Bradford, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree 1
operated by Eurowings
Düsseldorf 1
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík 1 Alicante, Barcelona, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Malaga, Rome-Fiumicino, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Antalya (begins 22 May 2015), Bodrum, Corfu, Dalaman, Faro, Funchal, Heraklion, Ibiza, Larnaca (begins 27 May 2015), Malta (begins 26 May 2015), Menorca, Murcia, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague (begins 21 May 2015), Reus, Rhodes, Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam 1
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Amsterdam 1
Lufthansa Seasonal: Munich (begins 16 May 2015)[20] 1
Niki Seasonal: Salzburg, Vienna 1
Onur Air Seasonal: Dalaman 1
Ryanair Berlin-Schönefeld (begins 31 October 2015),[21] Bydgoszcz, Derry, Dublin, London-Stansted, Riga, Warsaw-Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Carcassonne (begins 1 April 2015),[22] Chania (begins 3 June 2015)[22]
Thomas Cook Airlines Antalya, Cancún, Dalaman, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Las Vegas (begins 4 May 2015), Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Bodrum, Burgas, Cayo Coco, Corfu, Enfidha, Heraklion, Holguín (begins 29 December 2015), Ibiza, Kos, Menorca, Orlando-International, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Rhodes, Varadero (begins 8 January 2016), Zakynthos
Thomson Airways Alicante, Enfidha, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Paphos, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Antalya, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Cancún, Chambéry, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik (begins 7 May 2015), Faro, Geneva, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kos, Larnaca, Málaga, Montego Bay, Mahón, Naples, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Rhodes, Salzburg, Turin, Verona
United Airlines Newark 1
US Airways Seasonal: Philadelphia 1
Virgin Atlantic Seasonal: Las Vegas (begins 10 September 2015), Orlando-International 2
WestJet Seasonal: Halifax (begins 30 May 2015), Toronto-Pearson (begins 30 May 2015)[23] 1
Wizz Air Gdańsk, Katowice, Poznań, Warsaw-Chopin 1


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Feeder
operated by Swiftair
Dublin, London-Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle, Paris-Charles de Gaulle


Annual traffic data[edit]

Passenger traffic at Glasgow Airport peaked in 2006 when over 8.8 million passengers passed through the airport. Numbers subsequently declined until 2010, with 6.5 million passengers that year, but have since increased to nearly 7.4 million in 2013.[2]

Glasgow Airport Passenger Totals 1997-2014 (millions)
Updated: 2 April 2015.[2]
easyJet Airbus A319 at Glasgow
Number of Passengers[note 1] Number of Movements[note 2] Freight
(tonnes)[note 1]
1997 6,117,006 98,204 10,574
1998 6,566,927 100,942 8,517
1999 6,813,955 101,608 8,972
2000 6,965,500 104,929 8,545
2001 7,292,327 110,408 5,928
2002 7,803,627 104,393 5,041
2003 8,129,713 105,597 4,927
2004 8,575,039 107,885 8,122
2005 8,792,915 110,581 8,733
2006 8,848,755 110,034 6,289
2007 8,795,653 108,305 4,276
2008 8,178,891 100,087 3,546
2009 7,225,021 85,281 2,334
2010 6,548,865 77,755 2,914
2011 6,880,217 78,111 2,430
2012 7,157,859 80,472 9,497
2013 7,363,764 79,520 11,837
2014 7,708,867 77,447 15,411
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[24]

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest routes by country (2013)
Rank Country Passengers
 % change
1  United Kingdom 3,622,338 Increase02.5
2  Spain 1,240,174 Increase05.5
3  United Arab Emirates 402,340 Increase027.9
4  Netherlands 390,275 Increase05.0
5  USA 229,599 Increase03.3
6  Turkey 221,819 Decrease01.5
7  Ireland 180,239 Increase06.4
8  France 147,149 Decrease00.3
9  Greece 120,247 Decrease013.4
10  Portugal 115,978 Decrease09.6
11  Germany 99,589 Increase015.2
12  Canada 85,476 Decrease027.4
13  Cyprus 76,253 Decrease028.9
14  Italy 61,781 Decrease016.2
15  Egypt 53,624 Decrease019.1
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Busiest domestic routes (2013)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % change
1 London Heathrow 871,198 Increase 4.9
2 London Gatwick 608,990 Increase 0.1
3 London Stansted 308,715 Decrease 6.9
4 London Luton 281,806 Increase 1.6
5 Bristol 257,538 Increase 7.8
6 Belfast International 250,813 Decrease 6.1
7 Birmingham 204,638 Decrease 2.5
8 Southampton 182,565 Increase 5.2
9 London City 176,131 Increase 10.8
10 Belfast City 119,939 Increase 19.6
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Busiest international routes (2013)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % change
1 United Arab Emirates Dubai International 402,340 Increase 27.9
2 Netherlands Amsterdam Schiphol 390,137 Increase 4.9
3 Spain Palma de Mallorca 235,649 Increase 12.8
4 Spain Tenerife South 224,778 Decrease 1.4
5 Spain Alicante 215,386 Increase 7.2
6 Spain Málaga 156,507 Decrease 2.6
7 Republic of Ireland Dublin 141,475 Increase 2.3
8 France Paris Charles de Gaulle 137,918 Increase 10.3
9 Turkey Dalaman 127,962 Increase 2.3
10 Spain Arrecife de Lanzarote 118,215 Increase 8.7
11 United States Newark 103,131 Increase 7.2
12 Portugal Faro 94,242 Decrease 8.1
13 Spain Ibiza 76,813 Increase 15.1
14 Germany Berlin Schönefeld 70,647 Decrease 16.8
15 Canada Toronto Pearson 65,385 Decrease 27.0
16 Turkey Antalya 58,029 Decrease 17.6
17 Spain Gran Canaria 56,423 Increase 14.7
18 Egypt Sharm el-Sheikh 53,624 Decrease 19.1
19 Iceland Keflavík 50,589 Increase 30.1
20 Tunisia Enfidha 50,451 Increase 57.3
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • On 3 September 1999, a Cessna 404 carrying nine Airtours staff from Glasgow to Aberdeen on a transfer flight, crashed minutes after take off near the town of Linwood, Renfrewshire. Eight people were killed and three seriously injured. No one on the ground was hurt. A fatal accident inquiry into the accident later found that the aircraft developed an engine malfunction during take off. Although the captain decided to return to the airfield, he mistakenly identified the working engine as the faulty one and shut it down, causing the aircraft to crash.
  • On 30 June 2007, a day after the failed car bomb attacks in London, an attack at Glasgow International Airport occurred. A flaming Jeep Cherokee was driven into the entrance of Terminal 1. Two men, one alight, fled the vehicle before being apprehended by a combination of police officers, airport security officers and witnesses. One of the men died in the following months due to injuries sustained in the attack

Ground transport[edit]

The airport is currently linked to Glasgow City Centre by Glasgow Shuttle bus service 500. This is run by First Glasgow under contract to Glasgow Airport. Started in 2011, the service runs 24 hours a day, direct via the M8 motorway. McGill's Bus Services service 757 links the airport with Paisley Gilmour Street railway station, Paisley town centre, Erskine & Clydebank. This bus accepts National Rail tickets between Glasgow Airport and any railway station.

Between 2007 and 2011, Arriva Scotland West ran the 500 as the Glasgow Flyer. Prior to 2007, Arriva and Fairline Coaches ran this service as route 905, under contract to Scottish Citylink, and this ended following the introduction of the Flyer. Fairline later introduced a new Glasgow Airport Link service using the old route 905 number, but this has since been replaced by First as the 747 route, which travels to Glasgow city centre via Braehead and the West End of the city.


  1. ^ a b Number of Passengers including domestic, international and transit counterparts.
  2. ^ Number of Movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during each year.
  1. ^ a b "Glasgow - EGPF". UK Integrated Aeronautical Information Package. National Air Traffic Services. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f "UK Annual Airport Statistics". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 
  3. ^ "Contact us". Glasgow Airport. Retrieved 1 April 2014. Our address: Glasgow Airport Limited, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, PA3 2SW 
  4. ^ "IATA Airport Code Search (GLA)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved August 17, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Who we are". Heathrow Airport Holdings. 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f Smith, Abbotsinch
  7. ^ a b Smith, Renfrew
  8. ^ "Terminal & Transit Passengers at UK Airports - 1996". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 1996. 
  9. ^ BBC News. "A380 flight marks 10 years of Emirates at Glasgow". BBC News. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "Skyhub ready for take-off as construction phase begins" (Press release). Glasgow Airport. 29 October 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2007. 
  11. ^ "Glasgow Airport aiming sky high with £30m expansion" (Press release). Glasgow Airport. 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2007. 
  12. ^ "Ministers scrap airport rail plan". BBC News. 17 September 2009. 
  13. ^ "Statutory Information". Loganair. Retrieved 20 May 2009. Registered Office: St. Andrews Drive, Glasgow Airport PAISLEY Renfrewshire PA3 2TG 
  14. ^ "Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold in £1bn deal". BBC News. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Glasgow Airport outline Master Plan - Draft for Consultation" (PDF). Glasgow Airport. July 2005. Archived from the original on 2 November 2006. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ "New routes for summer 2015". easyJet. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "New Berlin Route From Glasgow (W15)". Ryanair. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  22. ^ a b "Glasgow Summer 2015 Schedule Launched". Ryanair. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  23. ^ - Glasgow? Aye, let’s go.
  24. ^ "UK Airport Statistics". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 
  • McCloskey, Keith. Glasgow's Airports: Renfrew and Abbotsinch. Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press Ltd., 2009. ISBN 978-0-7524-5077-3.
  • Smith, David J. Action Stations, Volume 7: Military airfields of Scotland, the North-East and Northern Ireland. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1983 ISBN 0-85059-563-0.

External links[edit]

Media related to Glasgow International Airport at Wikimedia Commons