|Operator||Coventry Airport Ltd.|
|Location||Baginton, Warwickshire, England|
|Passenger services ceased||9 November 2008|
|Elevation AMSL||267 ft / 81 m|
Coventry Airport (IATA: CVT, ICAO: EGBE) is located 3 NM (5.6 km; 3.5 mi) south-southeast of Coventry city centre, in the village of Baginton, Warwickshire, England. The airport is operated by Coventry Airport Limited, and has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P902) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee, Coventry Airport Limited.
Since October 2017, Coventry Airport has been undergoing transition to a general aviation aerodrome offering a flight information service.
First opened in 1936 as Baginton Aerodrome, Coventry Airport has been used for general aviation, flight training, and commercial freight and passenger flights, as well as being a World War II fighter airfield. In 1982, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass with a crowd of around 350,000 on his only UK visit. In 1994-5, it became a focus for animal rights campaigners who protested at the export of live animals from the airport as freight. From 2004 to 2008, Thomsonfly operated scheduled jet passenger flights from temporary hub facilities at Coventry. A controversial plan to build permanent passenger terminal facilities was rejected by the High Court in 2007. Following financial problems, the airport was briefly closed in 2009, before re-opening as a commercial airport in 2010.
Creation and growth
In 1933 Coventry City Council decided to develop a civil airport on land that it owned to the south-east of the city in Baginton. Coventry Airport was opened in 1936. Armstrong Whitworth, an aircraft manufacturer based nearby at Whitley Aerodrome, built an aircraft factory on the airport site soon afterwards.
The following units were here at some point:
- No. 6 Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Unit RAF
- No. 9 Group Anti-Aircraft Co-operation Flight RAF
- No. 32 Squadron RAF
- No. 63 Operational Training Unit RAF
- No. 79 Squadron RAF
- No. 134 Squadron RAF
- No. 135 Squadron RAF
- No. 308 Polish Fighter Squadron
- No. 403 Squadron RAF
- No. 457 Squadron RAAF
- No. 605 Squadron RAF
- Camouflage Flight RAF became No. 1 Camouflage Unit RAF
- Special Duties Flight RAF
After the war the airport was returned to civil use as a passenger and freight terminal. In the 1950s Jersey Airlines operated de Havilland Heron and Douglas DC-3 aircraft on services to the Channel Islands. In the 1960s British United Airways flew DC-3s, Aviation Traders Carvairs (which also carried passengers' cars) and Handley Page Dart Heralds to the Channel Islands. During the 1980s West Midlands based travel agents Hards Travel started using the Airport with its Vickers Viscount and Dart Herald aircraft for holidays to Spain, Italy and Austria, flying to Beauvais in France and Ostend Airport, operating under the Janus Airways banner. The holiday brands used were Summer-Plan, and HTS Holidays. In the late 1980s, Coventry City Council sold the airport lease to Air Atlantique.
Pope John Paul II visited the airport on 30 May 1982 as part of his six-day visit to Britain. He arrived in a gold and blue British Caledonian helicopter, and just after 10.00 a.m. he set off in a popemobile from the helipad to visit a crowd of about 350,000 people. He celebrated Mass and administered the sacrament of confirmation, and there was a carnival when he had lunch. He left in the helicopter at about 3.15 p.m.
Live veal calf export
From 5 November 1994 to 4 May 1995 live veal calves were exported from Coventry Airport to Amsterdam for distribution across Europe, and the locality became a focus for animal rights demonstrators. On 21 December 1994 Air Algérie Flight 702P, a Boeing 737, used for exporting calves crashed in Willenhall Wood, Willenhall, Coventry near to houses, on approach to the airport in bad weather, all five people on board were killed. The aircraft was owned by Air Algerie and on lease to Phoenix Aviation. On 1 February 1995, Jill Phipps, an animal rights activist aged 31 years, was crushed to death under the wheels of a lorry carrying live veal calves into Coventry Airport.
Past airline services
In February 2004 the airport lease was sold to TUI AG, which started scheduled international flights from a temporary passenger terminal building in March 2004 under the brand Thomsonfly using two Boeing 737s. The operation drew vociferous opposition from environmental campaigners, some local residents and Warwick District Council, but was supported by Coventry City Council. Warwick District Council unsuccessfully sought an injunction to stop flights, claiming that the temporary facilities were built without planning permission. Flights expanded through the following years, while the airport sought planning permission for a permanent passenger terminal and facilities. Thomsonfly expanded operations with more European flights and up to six aircraft based at the airport, while WizzAir also began regular flights to Poland.
After planning permission for a permanent passenger terminal was initially denied by Warwick District Council in 2004, two public inquiries took place, followed by an unsuccessful appeal by the airport owners to the UK government planning inspectorate, and finally to the High Court in 2008. The planning battle affected the confidence of flight operators. On 1 September 2008, Wizz Air confirmed it would not continue its seasonal service from Coventry to Gdańsk and Katowice. On 15 October 2008, Thomsonfly confirmed that it would cease operations at Coventry Airport, citing its increased focus on charter services after its merger with First Choice Airways. Scheduled passenger flights from Coventry ended on 9 November 2008. The airport continued with cargo operations, and was a base for executive jet services, general aviation and flight training, and the Warwickshire and Northamptonshire Air Ambulance.
Closure, sale and re-opening
In May 2009, Coventry Airport was put up for sale. The owners outsourced security, and also air traffic control to Marshall Aerospace. On 1 December 2009, it was reported that a petition was made by HM Revenue & Customs in the High Court to wind up the company, to the concern of local businesses. A hearing was due to take place at London's Royal Courts of Justice on Wednesday, 9 December 2009. On 8 December 2009, the CAA closed the airport with immediate effect, issuing a Notice to Airmen announcing the withdrawing of its operating licence. All commercial flying and flight training was suspended, although the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance continued to use the airport as a base. The airport re-opened as an unlicensed airfield the following week, without air traffic control, to private traffic.
A Swiss firm announced its interest in acquiring the airport in early 2010, but did not conclude a bid. Sir Peter Rigby's Patriot Aviation group took over ownership of Coventry Airport on 28 April, and it was fully re-opened in summer 2010. As of June 2010, Air Traffic Control services at Coventry have been provided by SERCO.
Cancelled second Papal visit
As part of Pope Benedict XVI's planned visit to Britain in September 2010 it was announced that the centrepiece of the visit, the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, would take place on 19 September at the airport, following the success of the 1982 visit of Pope John Paul II. However, it was subsequently announced in June 2010 that the preferred venue had changed to the smaller Cofton Park, in Birmingham.
Triumph in the Skies II
Channel 5 TV's Borderline Season 1 was filmed in March/April 2016 with Coventry Airport being turned into "Northend Airport" for the show.
Airlines and destinations
As of January 2018, there are no public scheduled or charter operations available at Coventry Airport.
- Aeros Flight Training
- Almat Flying Academy
- L3 Harris Airline Academy
- British International Helicopters, doing business as Patriot Aviation Engineering Limited
- Coventry Aeroplane Club
- Midland Air Training
- The Air Ambulance Service (WNAA)
- Atlantic Flight Maintenance
Accidents and incidents
- On 15 April 1969, Douglas DC-3D N4296 of Aviation Enterprises was destroyed by fire at Baginton Airport.
- On 30 May 1988 during the annual Warwickshire Air Pageant, 38 year old CFS RAF Flight Lieutenant Peter Stacey was killed in a Gloster Meteor T7, registration WF791, which lost altitude and crashed three miles away into a small area of open ground between the Willenhall and Ernesford Grange housing estates, apparently sacrificing his own life to save many others.
- On 21 December 1994, Air Algérie Flight 702P, an Air Algérie Boeing 737 aircraft (leased to Phoenix aviation) crashed in Willenhall Wood on approach to Coventry. All five people (three crew and two passengers) on board were killed.
- On 17 August 2008, five people were killed when two light aircraft collided on their final approach into Coventry Airport. The aircraft involved were a Cessna 402C and a Rand KR-2. The Air Accident Investigation Board's report of crash concluded that "the two aircraft collided because their respective pilots either did not see the other aircraft, or did not see it in time to take effective avoiding action". In 2012, an inquest jury criticised poor monitoring and communication by staff at Coventry Airport. The jury also said the tower controller at the airport provided the Cessna 402 with "inaccurate information" about the other aircraft.
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Media related to Coventry Airport at Wikimedia Commons