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Blue Grass Airport

Coordinates: 38°02′11″N 084°36′21″W / 38.03639°N 84.60583°W / 38.03639; -84.60583
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Blue Grass Airport
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; -84.60583
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Direction Length Surface
ft m
4/22 7,004 2,135 Asphalt
9/27 4,000 1,219 Concrete
Statistics (2023)
Passenger volume1,354,136
Departing passengers681,611
Commercial aircraft operations17,720
Based aircraft (2021)169
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 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.

Law enforcement and fire protection[edit]

This airport is protected by the Blue Grass Airport Department of Public Safety, located at 4101 Aviator Road, approximately the middle of the airport. This is an Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) facility with five apparatus bays, administration and operations, on-site residential living quarters, classroom-style training and physical training facilities, and a flight line watch room.[8] The apparatus bays are located on the level aligned with the airfield, along with the frequently used spaces are located as close as possible to the apparatus bays to minimize response times. All of the DPS officers are trained and certified in law enforcement, firefighting, and EMS. Officers of the DPS work shifts of 24-on and 48-off, which is a typical firefighter's shift. During the 24-hour work shift, they perform all aspects of public safety - law enforcement, firefighting, and EMS.[9] They are required to have 100 hours of fire training every year on top of the 40 hours of law enforcement training each year.

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.[10] 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, Las Vegas, Orlando/Sanford, Punta Gorda (FL), St. Petersburg/Clearwater
Seasonal: Destin/Fort Walton Beach, Myrtle Beach
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth [12]
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia
Seasonal: Miami[13]
Delta Air Lines Atlanta [14]
Delta Connection Detroit, Washington–National [14]
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Denver[15] [16]

Destinations map[edit]


Top destinations[edit]

Busiest domestic routes from LEX (November 2022 - October 2023)[3]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Georgia (U.S. state) Atlanta, Georgia 194,000 Delta
2 North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina 102,000 American
3 Illinois Chicago, Illinois 88,000 American, United
4 Texas Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 76,000 American
5 Michigan Detroit, Michigan 41,000 Delta
6 Florida Orlando–Sanford, Florida 31,000 Allegiant
7 Florida St. Petersburg, Florida 26,000 Allegiant
8 Florida Punta Gorda, Florida 22,000 Allegiant
9 Florida Fort Lauderdale, Florida 19,000 Allegiant
10 Pennsylvania Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 15,000 American

Airline market share[edit]

Largest airlines at LEX
(April 2022 - March 2023)
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Delta Air Lines 355,000 27.66%
2 Allegiant Air 217,000 16.92%
3 PSA Airlines 195,000 15.22%
4 SkyWest Airlines 105,000 8.14%
5 American Airlines 95,940 7.47%
Other 316,000 24.58%


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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19]

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 possibly caused by spatial disorientation, low ceiling and rain. Both occupants were killed.[20]
  • 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. The jet crossed a highway and struck an automobile, utility poles and two fences, killing the pilot and copilot 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.[21][22]
  • November 1993: The flight crew of a commercial jet was cleared for takeoff on Runway 22 but mistakenly entered the shorter Runway 26 instead. Tower personnel noticed the mistake and canceled the aircraft's takeoff clearance just as the crew realized their error. The aircraft subsequently made a safe departure from Runway 22.[23]
  • 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.[24]
  • 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 for takeoff from the much longer Runway 22. There were 49 fatalities and first officer James Polehinke was the only survivor.
  • March 25, 2009: A Cessna 182, registration number N4871N, crashed 3 mi (5 km) west of the airport, killing the pilot, who was flying alone. The pilot apparently became disoriented during the landing approach after losing electrical power in densely clouded IFR conditions, but the cause of the crash was not positively determined.[25]
  • March 24, 2010: A medical helicopter, Eurocopter EC135, made an emergency landing with a patient on board, skidding to a stop along a grassy area next to a runway after an engine had 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 their Falcon 20 collapsed as the plane landed, causing the plane to skid to a stop on the runway. The plane was en route to Lexington from Statesville, North Carolina.[26]
  • December 21, 2011: An AirTran Boeing 717 carrying 106 passengers experienced 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 said that 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 had fallen in an hour. No one was injured.[27]

Popular culture[edit]

Bluegrass Field was Auric Goldfinger's flight destination in the James Bond film Goldfinger.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Blue Grass Airport Passenger Stats for 2023" (PDF). bluegrassairport.com. Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  2. ^ a b FAA Airport Form 5010 for LEX PDF, effective February 23, 2023.
  3. ^ a b c "Blue Grass Airport". Retrieved June 15, 2023.
  4. ^ Blue Grass Airport Passenger Statistics
  5. ^ "LEX airport data at skyvector.com". skyvector.com. 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. ^ "Bluegrass International Airport Public Safety Facility". CR Architects. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  9. ^ "Eyes in the Sky". Kentucky Law Enforcement. 25 October 2018. Retrieved 2023-05-02.
  10. ^ Blue Grass Airport Economic Impact Study 2011
  11. ^ "Allegiant Interactive Route Map". Allegiantair.com. Archived from the original on July 17, 2017. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Flight schedules and notifications". Archived from the original on February 2, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  13. ^ "Palm trees and 80 degrees: American Airlines adds more ways to visit Miami with record-breaking winter schedule". American Airlines Newsroom. July 13, 2023. Retrieved 13 July 2023.
  14. ^ a b "FLIGHT SCHEDULES". Retrieved 11 June 2024.
  15. ^ "United Expands Role as Denver's Most Flown Airline: Adds 35 Flights, Six Routes, 12 Gates, New Flight Bank and Three Clubs". Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  16. ^ "Timetable". Archived from the original on 28 January 2017. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  17. ^ City of Lexington Proposed Budget 1934
  18. ^ James A Clark Jr. Jim Clark Soldier Farmer Legislator. p. 45.
  19. ^ Letter of acknowledgement from Dr. George M. Gumbert, Jr., Chairman, Lexington-Fayette Urban County Airport Board to Jill Reiling Markey.
  20. ^ Accident description for N100RC at the Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved on October 29, 2020.
  21. ^ "NTSB Probable Cause Report ATL88MA053". National Traffic Safety Board. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  22. ^ "2 Killed, 4 Injured in Kentucky Plane Crash". The Dallas Morning News. 1987-12-06.
  23. ^ "NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System report #256788". NASA. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  24. ^ "NTSB Probable Cause Report NYC02FA177". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2006-08-27.
  25. ^ "NTSB Preliminary Report ERA09FA215". National Transportation Safety Board. Retrieved 2009-09-23.
  26. ^ Evans, Tamara. "Problem with NASCAR driver's plane causes scare at airport". Archived from the original on 2015-02-24. Retrieved 2015-02-24.
  27. ^ WKYT. "Plane skids off runway at Blue Grass Airport, no injuries reported". Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  28. ^ "Goldfinger Script - transcript from the screenplay and/or James Bond movie". script-o-rama.com.

External links[edit]