Blue Grass Airport

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Blue Grass Airport
Blue Grass Airport Logo.svg
Blue Grass Airport Terminals.jpg
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorLexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Board
ServesLexington, Kentucky
LocationFayette County
Elevation AMSL979 ft / 298 m
Coordinates38°02′11″N 084°36′21″W / 38.03639°N 84.60583°W / 38.03639; -84.60583Coordinates: 38°02′11″N 084°36′21″W / 38.03639°N 84.60583°W / 38.03639; -84.60583
LEX is located in Kentucky
Location of airport in Kentucky, United States
LEX is located in the United States
LEX (the United States)
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 7,004 2,135 Asphalt
9/27 4,000 1,219 Concrete
Statistics (12 months ending July 2021 except where noted)
Passenger volume701,000
Departing passengers352,000
Scheduled flights7,769
Aircraft operations (2020)62,149
Based aircraft (2021)151
Source: Blue Grass Airport,[1] Federal Aviation Administration,[2] BTS[3]

Blue Grass Airport (IATA: LEX, ICAO: KLEX, FAA LID: LEX) is a public airport in Fayette County, Kentucky, United States, 6 miles west of downtown Lexington. Located among world-renowned horse farms and situated directly across from Keeneland Race Course, Blue Grass Airport is the primary airport serving central and eastern Kentucky. More than 1.3 million passengers depart or arrive annually at Blue Grass Airport. In 2017, the airport served 1,316,847 passengers via four major airline carriers: Allegiant Air, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, and United Airlines.[4]

Features and facilities[edit]

The airport covers 911 acres (3.69 km2) and has two runways.[2][5] On August 4, 2010, a new 4,000 foot runway, 9/27, opened replacing the previous 3,500 foot runway, 8/26.[6] The previous runway, which is in a similar location as the new runway except that it overlapped runway 22, was removed after a 2006 crash of a Delta Connection flight, during which all aboard except the co-pilot were killed after an attempted take-off from the wrong, shorter runway.[7] Blue Grass Airport is home to the Aviation Museum of Kentucky, which features more than 25,000 square feet of exhibit space displaying restored aircraft and memorabilia. The current main terminal building opened in 1977. On April 18, 2007, Blue Grass Airport opened an extension of Concourse B, adding six boarding gates with four new jet bridges.

Economic impact[edit]

Blue Grass Airport is a catalyst for economic growth in the region, contributing to both the Lexington area and other parts of Kentucky. The airport is an important component of Lexington's economy, providing 3,478 jobs for Lexington and an annual economic impact of $370 million.[8] In addition to commercial passenger service, the airport also offers corporate and general aviation services, including a newly constructed general aviation terminal, U.S. Customs, charter flights, aircraft maintenance, hangars, and flight instruction.

Passenger numbers[edit]

The airport is the third busiest airport in Kentucky, behind Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (9.1 million passengers/year) and Louisville International Airport (4.2 million passengers/year).

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Allegiant Air Fort Lauderdale, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Myrtle Beach
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia
Avelo Airlines Fort Myers (begins November 18, 2022),[9] Orlando (begins October 19, 2022), Tampa (begins November 12, 2022)[10] [11]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [12]
Delta Connection Atlanta, Detroit, Washington–National[13] [12]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare [14]

Destinations map[edit]


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from LEX (May 2021 – April 2022)[3]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 159,660 Delta
2 Chicago, Illinois 74,940 American, United
3 Charlotte, North Carolina 73,940 American
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 58,480 American
5 Detroit, Michigan 40,140 Delta
6 Orlando–Sanford, Florida 28,530 Allegiant
7 Fort Myers/Punta Gorda, Florida 24,530 Allegiant
8 St. Petersburg, Florida 22,590 Allegiant
9 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 15,250 Allegiant
10 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 13,100 American

Airline market share[edit]

Largest airlines at LEX
(October 2020 – September 2021)
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Allegiant Air 207,000 19.51%
2 Endeavor Air 185,000 17.48%
3 Delta Air Lines 157,000 14.82%
4 Envoy Air 143,000 13.48%
5 Piedmont Airlines 125,000 11.82%
6 Other 243,000 22.87%


Blue Grass Airport began as a municipal airfield that was developed with the assistance of the Federal Civil Works Administration as part of a state-wide airport development policy in 1933. The town share for construction was $1,362 with a portion of $22,427 spent in Lexington overall.[15] Blue Grass Airport opened with a star-shaped layout. In World War II it was used by pilots training at Bowman for dead-stick landing practice in preparation for glider assaults.[16] The original airport logo was designed by a student who attended and graduated from the University of Kentucky. Dr. Jill Reiling Markey (class of 1978) designed the logo in 1976. The current logo is based on Dr. Markey's design. For her efforts, Dr. Markey was awarded the Commission of Kentucky Colonel by then Governor Julian M. Carroll in 1976.

Accidents and incidents[edit]

  • November 14, 1970: An Aero Commander 1121 Jet Commander operated by Royal Crown Cola Corp. impacted terrain at a steep angle during a missed approach procedure at LEX possibly caused by spatial orientation, low ceiling and rain. Both occupants were killed.[17]
  • December 5, 1987: After suffering an in-flight engine fire en route from Dallas, Texas to New York, the flight crew of a Hawker Siddeley HS.125 business jet, registration number N400PH, touched down short of the runway while attempting an emergency landing at Blue Grass Airport. The jet crossed a highway and struck an automobile, utility poles, and two fences, killing the pilot and co-pilot, and injuring both passengers in the aircraft and two people in the automobile. The accident was attributed to the crew's inadvertent retraction of the aircraft's flaps, causing the jet to suddenly lose altitude.[18][19]
  • November 1993: The flight crew of an unidentified commercial jet at Blue Grass Airport was cleared for takeoff on Runway 22 but mistakenly lined up at the shorter Runway 26 instead. Tower personnel noticed the mistake and cancelled the aircraft's takeoff clearance just as the crew realized their error. The aircraft subsequently made a safe departure from Runway 22.[20]
  • August 30, 2002: A Learjet 35C, registration number N45CP, overran Runway 4 on landing, killing one passenger and seriously injuring four other occupants of the aircraft. The accident was attributed to the pilot's application of additional forward thrust after failing to properly deploy the jet's thrust reversers.[21]
  • August 27, 2006: Comair Flight 5191, a Bombardier CRJ-100ER operated by regional carrier Comair on behalf of Delta Connection, overran Runway 26 and crashed after being cleared to take off from the much longer Runway 22. There were 49 fatalities, with the first officer, James Polehinke, being the only survivor.
  • March 25, 2009: A Cessna 182, registration number N4871N, crashed 3 mi (5 km) west of Blue Grass Airport, killing the pilot and sole occupant. The pilot apparently became disoriented during the landing approach after losing electrical power in densely clouded IFR conditions, but the cause of the crash had not been positively determined as of September 2009.[22]
  • March 25, 2010: A medical helicopter, Eurocopter EC135, had to make an emergency landing at Blue Grass Airport on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. The chopper, with a patient on board, skidded to a stop along a grassy area next to a runway after one engine lost power. There were no reports of injuries, but emergency vehicles flooded the area moments after the helicopter landed.
  • March 9, 2011: NASCAR driver Greg Biffle and two others were unhurt after the landing gear of the Falcon 20 they were flying collapsed as the plane landed at Blue Grass Airport in the morning. The incident happened at about 11:00 AM, when a mechanical failure during the landing caused the aircraft to skid to a stop on the runway. The plane was en route to Lexington from Statesville, North Carolina.[23]
  • December 21, 2011: An AirTran Boeing 717 carrying 106 passengers had engine trouble on its way from O'Hare International Airport to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and safely landed at Blue Grass Airport just after 4 p.m. An AirTran spokesperson says the captain shut the engine down during flight and diverted to Lexington. Crews replaced that engine overnight. There were no reported injuries.
  • May 19, 2018: An Endeavor Air Bombardier CRJ-900 operating as Delta Connection Flight 3359 from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport skidded off the runway after an inch of rain fell in an hour. No one was injured.[24]

Popular culture[edit]

Bluegrass Field was Auric Goldfinger's flight destination in the James Bond film Goldfinger.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Passenger statistics". Retrieved July 24, 2017.
  2. ^ a b FAA Airport Form 5010 for LEX PDF, effective December 30, 2021.
  3. ^ a b c "Blue Grass Airport". Retrieved August 9, 2022.
  4. ^ Blue Grass Airport Passenger Statistics
  5. ^ "LEX airport data at". Retrieved September 14, 2022.
  6. ^ 2013 Passenger Statistics Archived 2014-05-19 at the Wayback Machine Blue Grass Airport. Retrieved 2014-05-19
  7. ^ "Blue Grass Airport has undergone many changes since crash of Flight 5191".
  8. ^ Blue Grass Airport Economic Impact Study 2011
  9. ^ "New low-cost airliner at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport to add third Florida destination".
  10. ^[bare URL]
  11. ^ "Destinations". Avelo Airlines. Retrieved January 18, 2022.
  12. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  13. ^ "Non-stop flights between Lexington and Washington, D.C. Return".
  14. ^ "Timetable". Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  15. ^ City of Lexington Proposed Budget 1934
  16. ^ James A Clark Jr. Jim Clark Soldier Farmer Legislator. p. 45.
  17. ^ Accident description for N100RC at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 29, 2020.
  18. ^ "NTSB Probable Cause Report ATL88MA053". National Traffic Safety Board. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  19. ^ "2 Killed, 4 Injured in Kentucky Plane Crash". The Dallas Morning News. 1987-12-06.
  20. ^ "NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System report #256788". NASA. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  21. ^ "NTSB Probable Cause Report NYC02FA177". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  22. ^ "NTSB Preliminary Report ERA09FA215". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  23. ^ Evans, Tamara. "Problem with NASCAR driver's plane causes scare at airport".
  24. ^ WKYT. "Plane skids off runway at Blue Grass Airport, no injuries reported". Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  25. ^ "Goldfinger Script - transcript from the screenplay and/or James Bond movie".

22. Letter of acknowledgement from Dr. George M. Gumbert, Jr., Chairman, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Board to Jill Reiling Markey.

External links[edit]