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
Location Paisley
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 (2015 - provisional)
Passengers 8,709,964
Passenger change 14–15 Increase12.9%
Aircraft movements (2014) 84,000
Movements change 13–14 Increase5.6%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Location from Glasgow Airport[3]

Glasgow Airport , also unofficially Glasgow International Airport, IATA: GLA[4]ICAO: EGPF, formerly 'Abbotsinch Airport', then 'Renfrew 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 west of Scotland and is the principal transatlantic and direct long-haul 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, Ryanair, 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), 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]


Apron view
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, Ryanair and EasyJet. In 2015 a £3,000,000 exstension was added to the pier, creating space for 750,000 extra passengers a year.

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 and Virgin Atlantic's Boeing 747-400s. 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 Drumchapel, 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 7.7 million passengers passing through the airport is expected to rise to more than 24 million by 2030.

Plans are confirmed to build a tram-rail link that will link the city centre to the airport with plans already underway to begin construction of the project.[17]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


Airlines Destinations Terminal
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Cork, Donegal, Dublin 1
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto-Pearson (begins 14 June 2016)[18] 2
Air France Seasonal: Paris–Charles de Gaulle (resumes 27 March 2016)[19] 1
Air Transat Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Calgary (ends 4 June 2016), Montréal-Trudeau (begins 30 May 2016),[20] Vancouver
Air Malta Seasonal charter: Malta 1
American Airlines Seasonal: Philadelphia 1
Austrian Airlines Seasonal charter: Vienna (begins 23 July 2016)[21] 1
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas, Varna (begins 7 May 2016)[22] 1
Blue Air Bucharest 2
British Airways London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow
Seasonal: Salzburg[23]
British Airways
operated by BA Cityflyer
Seasonal charter: Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Genoa (begins 29 May 2016)[24] Ibiza, Malaga, Menorca, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Salzburg, Venice-Marco Polo, Verona
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 (ends 25 June 2016), Marseille (begins 28 June 2016),[25] Milan-Malpensa,[26] Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Bordeaux, Geneva, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Split
Emirates Dubai-International 1
Eurowings Düsseldorf 1
Flybe Belfast-City, Birmingham, Cardiff,[27] Exeter, East Midlands, Manchester, Southampton
Seasonal: Jersey, Newquay (begins 21 May 2016)
operated by Loganair
Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Leeds/Bradford, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Manchester, Sumburgh, Tiree 1
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík 1 Alicante, Barcelona, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Malaga, Rome-Fiumicino, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Antalya, Bodrum, Corfu, Dalaman, Enfidha (suspended),[28] Faro, Girona (begins 20 May 2016),[29] Funchal, Heraklion, Ibiza, Larnaca, Malta, Menorca, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague, Reus, Rhodes, Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam 1
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Amsterdam 1
Lufthansa Seasonal: Munich[30] 1
Ryanair Berlin-Schönefeld,[31] Bydgoszcz, Derry, Dublin, London-Stansted, Riga, Warsaw-Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Carcassonne,[32] Chania[32]
Thomas Cook Airlines Antalya, Dalaman, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Almeria (begins 25 May 2016),[33] Barbados,[34] Bodrum, Bourgas, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Corfu, Enfidha (suspended), Heraklion, Holguín, Hurghada (begins 14 February 2017), Ibiza, Kos, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Menorca, Orlando-International, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Rhodes, Sharm El Sheikh (resumes 9 November 2016), Varadero, Zakynthos
Thomson Airways Alicante, Dubai-Al Maktoum (begins 8 November 2016), Enfidha, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Sal (begins 3 November 2016), Sharm el-Sheikh (suspended), Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Antalya, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Cancún, Chambéry, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Geneva, Girona (begins 7 May 2016),[35] Heraklion, Ibiza, Kos, Larnaca, Málaga, Montego Bay, Mahón, Naples, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Rhodes, Salzburg, Turin, Verona
Thomson Airways
operated by ASL Airlines France
Seasonal charter: Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca 1
United Airlines Newark 1
Virgin Atlantic Orlando-International 1
WestJet Seasonal: Halifax, Toronto-Pearson[36] 1
Wizz Air Bucharest,[37] Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin, Poznań, Warsaw-Chopin, Vilnius 1


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Feeder
operated by Swiftair
FedEx Feeder
operated by ASL Airlines Ireland
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 8.7 million in 2015.[2]

Glasgow Airport Passenger Totals 1997–2014 (millions)
Updated: 3 February 2016[2]
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 7,715,988 84,000 15,411
2015 8,709,964 TBA TBA
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[38]

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest domestic routes (2014)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % change
1 London Heathrow 870,988 Steady 0
2 London Gatwick 613,254 Increase 1
3 London Stansted 304,154 Decrease 1
4 London Luton 270,220 Decrease 4
5 Bristol 245,288 Decrease 5
6 Belfast International 241,789 Decrease 4
7 Birmingham 229,415 Increase 13
8 London City 207,856 Increase 19
9 Southampton 173,007 Decrease 5
10 Belfast City 142,833 Increase 20
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Busiest international routes (2014)
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % change
1 Dubai International 424,561 Increase 6
2 Amsterdam Schiphol 414,270 Increase 6
3 Tenerife South 249,684 Increase 11
4 Palma de Mallorca 216,208 Decrease 8
5 Dublin 212,005 Increase 50
6 Alicante 197,450 Decrease 8
7 Málaga 168,010 Increase 7
8 Dalaman 125,006 Decrease 2
9 Arrecife de Lanzarote 122,892 Increase 4
10 Newark 103,887 Increase 1
11 Faro 101,179 Increase 7
12 Paris Charles de Gaulle 98,924 Decrease 28
13 Ibiza 73,940 Decrease 4
14 Berlin Schönefeld 71,865 Increase 2
15 Gran Canaria 67,366 Increase 19
16 Keflavík 65,203 Increase 29
17 Toronto Pearson 62,801 Decrease 4
18 Antalya 60,570 Increase 4
19 Fuerteventura 60,455 Increase 28
20 Enfidha 55,077 Increase 9
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. New barriers and security measures have been added to prevent a similar incident from taking place [39]

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.


  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 "PROVISIONAL CAA AIRPORT STATISTICS FOR DECEMBER 2015" (PDF). UK Civil Aviation Authority. 22 January 2016. Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  3. ^ "Contact us". Glasgow Airport. Retrieved 1 April 2014. Our address: Glasgow Airport Limited, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, PA3 2SW 
  4. ^ "IATA Airport Search (GLA)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved 17 August 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" (PDF). 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 (PDF) on 2 November 2006. 
  16. ^ [1] Archived 26 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Air Canada Resumes Glasgow Service from June 2016 with rouge". September 9, 2015. Retrieved September 9, 2015. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ "airtransat Adds Montreal - Glasgow Route from late-May 2016". 4 September 2015. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  21. ^ "Austrian Airlines Schedule". myAustrian Holidays. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ "British Airways announces new route to Salzburg from Glasgow Airport". Glasgow Airport Limited. 19 August 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015. 
  24. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Flybe Timetable". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  28. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ . Jet2  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  30. ^ COMKOM° GmbH, Germany. "With Lufthansa to Seville, Crete and Iceland next summer – Austrian Airlines launches flight service to Mauritius". Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  31. ^ "New Berlin Route From Glasgow (W15)". Ryanair. Retrieved 20 January 2015. 
  32. ^ a b "Glasgow Summer 2015 Schedule Launched". Ryanair. Retrieved 28 August 2014. 
  33. ^ "New flights from Glasgow to southern Spain.". Evening Times. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  34. ^ "Thomas Cook to launch Cancun and Barbados routes". BBC News. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  35. ^ "Thomson announces new service to Girona for summer 2016". Glasgow Airport Limited. 18 January 2016. Retrieved 24 January 2016. 
  36. ^ "WestJet announces service to Glasgow, United Kingdom". WestJet Blog. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  37. ^ "Wizz Air - Timetable". Wizz Air. Retrieved 24 October 2015. 
  38. ^ "UK Airport Statistics". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 
  39. ^
  • 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