Glasgow Airport

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Glasgow Airport
Airport type Public
Owner AGS Airports
Operator Glasgow Airport Limited
Location Paisley, Renfrewshire, United Kingdom
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 (2016)
Passengers 9,327,193
Passenger change 15–16 Increase7.0%
Aircraft movements 98,217
Movements change 15–16 Increase8.2%
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, is an international airport in Scotland, located 8.6 nautical miles (15.9 km; 9.9 mi) west[1] of Glasgow city centre. In 2016, the airport handled nearly 9.4 million passengers, a 7% 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, the latter using it as a hub. Other major airlines using GLA as a base include EasyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and TUI Airways.

Glasgow Airport was opened in 1966 and originally flights only operated to other places in the United Kingdom and Europe. 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.[8]

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.[citation needed] 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.[9]


Apron view
Tail fins at the international pier
The atrium and bridge linking the Basil Spence building with the extension

The airport serves a variety of destinations throughout Europe, North America and the Middle East. Jet2, Ryanair, easyJet, Thomas Cook Airlines, TUI Airways and Loganair have a base at the airport. The largest aircraft to regularly operate at the airport are the Boeing 777-300ER and the Boeing 747-400. On 10 April 2014 Emirates operated an Airbus A380 to Glasgow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Glasgow-Dubai route, the first time an A380 had visited a Scottish airport.[10] Currently, the airport is not certified for regular A380 operations.

The terminal consists of three piers; the West Pier, Central Pier and East Pier.

The West Pier, commonly known as the International Pier, was built as part of the 1989 extension project and is the principal international and long haul departure point. The majority of stands on this pier are equipped with airbridges.

The Central Pier was part of the original 1966 building. The British Airways gates are located in the 1971 extension at the end of the pier, with Heathrow and Gatwick shuttles making up most of its traffic as well as BA CityFlyer flights to London City. The British Airways lounge is located on this pier, across from gate 15. Other users of the Central Pier are Flybe and Aer Lingus. Most of the stands on this pier are equipped with airbridges.

The East Pier, constructed in the mid-1970s, was originally used for international flights but in recent years has been re-developed for use by low-cost airlines. None of the stands on this pier are equipped with airbridges. The main users of this pier are Ryanair, EasyJet, Jet2 and Loganair. In 2015 a £3,000,000 extension was added to the pier, creating space for 750,000 extra passengers a year.

In late 2007,[11] work commenced on Skyhub (located between the Main Terminal and Terminal 2)[12] 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 enlarged 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. This however meant that the former public viewing areas of the apron are now airside, making the airport inaccessible to aviation enthusiasts and spectators.

Future 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, Foxbar, Faifley and Linwood all sit directly underneath the approach paths into the airport, meaning that further increases in traffic may be politically sensitive. The airport is challenged by Edinburgh Airport, which now serves a wider range of European destinations, growing to overtake Glasgow as Scotland's busiest airport, although Glasgow retains the edge on transatlantic and long haul routes.

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.[13]

Currently, the airport is easily accessible by road due with direct access to the adjoining M8 motorway. It is also served by a frequent bus service, the Glasgow Airport Express, which operates services to city centre. The service is run by First Glasgow and all buses feature leather seats, USB charging ports and free WiFi.

The airport is home to the Scottish regional airline Loganair, currently a Flybe franchise operator, who have their head office located on site.[14] 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 July 2014, Emirates opened a dedicated lounge at the airport[15] for First and Business class passengers. It is located at the top of the West Pier.

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.[16]


In 2005 BAA published a consultation paper[17] 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.[18]

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 9.4 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.[19]

Airlines and destinations[edit]


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter services to and from Glasgow:[20]

Airlines Destinations
Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Cork, Donegal, Dublin
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto–Pearson
Air France
operated by HOP!
Paris–Charles de Gaulle (ends 28 October 2017)[21]
Air Transat Toronto–Pearson
Seasonal: Vancouver
AlbaStar Seasonal charter: Verona[22]
American Airlines Seasonal: Philadelphia
Austrian Airlines Seasonal charter: Vienna[23]
BH Air Seasonal charter: Burgas
Blue Air Bucharest
British Airways London–Gatwick, London–Heathrow
British Airways
operated by BA CityFlyer
Seasonal charter: Barcelona, Faro, Malaga, Menorca, Milan–Malpensa, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Salzburg, Venice
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: New York–JFK
easyJet Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast-International, Berlin–Schönefeld, Bristol, Faro, Jersey, London–Gatwick, London–Luton, London–Stansted, Málaga, Milan–Malpensa, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Bordeaux, Geneva, Kos, Marseille, Palma de Mallorca, Split
Emirates Dubai–International
Eurowings Düsseldorf
operated by Air Berlin
operated by Germanwings
Flybe Belfast-City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, East Midlands, Southampton
Seasonal: Jersey, Newquay
operated by Eastern Airways
Isle of Man (begins 29 October 2017)[24] , Manchester, Stornoway, Sumburgh[25]
operated by Stobart Air
London–Southend (begins 29 October 2017)[26]
Icelandair Reykjavík–Keflavík Alicante, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Funchal, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Antalya, Barcelona, Bodrum (resumes 3 May 2018),[27] Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Geneva, Girona, Grenoble, Malaga, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kefalonia (begins 9 May 2018),[28] Larnaca, Malta, Menorca, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague, Reus, Rhodes, Rome–Fiumicino, Thessaloniki (begins 29 May 2018),[29] Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Loganair Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Islay,Kirkwall, Manchester, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree
Lufthansa Munich
Ryanair Alicante, Berlin–Schönefeld, Charleroi, Derry, Dublin, Frankfurt,[30] Kraków (begins 29 October 2017),[31] Lisbon, Lanzarote, Madrid (begins 29 October 2017),[32] Málaga, Riga, Sofia, Valencia, Warsaw–Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Bydgoszcz, Carcassonne, Chania, Gran Canaria, London–Stansted, Palanga, Zadar[33]
Thomas Cook Airlines Antalya, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Alicante, Bourgas, Cancún, Corfu, Dalaman, Enfidha (begins 1 May 2018),[34] Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Hurghada (begins 3 November 2017),[35] Ibiza, Kos (begins 7 May 2018), [36] Larnaca, Las Vegas, Menorca, Orlando, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Rhodes, Zakynthos
TUI Airways Alicante, Lanzarote, Sal, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Burgas, Cancún, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Gran Canaria, Heraklion, Ibiza,Larnaca, Málaga,[37] Mahón, Naples, Orlando/Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Reus, Rhodes[38],Zakynthos[39]
Seasonal charter: Chambéry, Geneva, Turin, Verona, Zakynthos[citation needed]
TUI Airways
operated by BA Cityflyer
Seasonal: Salzburg (begins 26 May 2018)[40]
United Airlines Seasonal: Newark[41]
Virgin Atlantic Seasonal: Orlando
WestJet Seasonal: Halifax, Toronto–Pearson
Wizz Air Bucharest (ends 4 November 2017),[42] Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice, Warsaw–Chopin (ends 5 November 2017)[43]


Airlines Destinations
FedEx Feeder
operated by ASL Airlines Ireland
Newcastle upon Tyne, Paris–Charles de Gaulle
FedEx Feeder
operated by Swiftair


Annual traffic data[edit]

Passenger traffic at Glasgow Airport reached a record high in 2016 when nearly 9.4 million passengers passed through the airport.[2]

Glasgow Airport Passenger Totals 1997–2016 (millions)
Updated: 14 March 2017[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 8,714,307 90,790 13,193
2016 9,327,193 98,217 12,921
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Busiest routes[edit]

Busiest routes to and from Glasgow (2016)[44]
Rank Airport Total
2015 / 16
1 London–Heathrow 893,846 Decrease 1.5%
2 London–Stansted 652,434 Increase 22.3%
3 London–Gatwick 608,550 Decrease 0.6%
4 Dublin 486,886 Increase 8.5%
5 Amsterdam 436,675 Increase 2.6%
6 Dubai–International 428,098 Decrease 0.4%
7 Bristol 297,295 Increase 11.3%
8 Belfast–International 282,375 Increase 6.0%
9 Tenerife–South 277,518 Increase 13.8%
10 London–City 235,075 Decrease 1.4%
11 Alicante 233,184 Increase 22.4%
12 Birmingham 226,731 Increase 0.0%
13 Palma de Mallorca 225,687 Increase 5.4%
14 London–Luton 214,693 Decrease 0.2%
15 Málaga 187,604 Increase 13.6%
16 Southampton 179,436 Increase 13.3%
17 Belfast–City 169,839 Increase 9.5%
18 Berlin–Schonefeld 168,558 Increase 91.4%
19 Paris–Charles de Gaulle 152,404 Increase 37.5%
20 Lanzarote 136,197 Increase 14.1%

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 Main Terminal. 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.[45]

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 "Aircraft and passenger traffic data from UK airports". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  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. ^ "Glasgow Airport Guide". History of Glasgow Airport. Retrieved 25 January 2017. 
  9. ^ "Terminal & Transit Passengers at UK Airports – 1996" (PDF). UK Civil Aviation Authority. 1996. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2011. 
  10. ^ BBC News. "A380 flight marks 10 years of Emirates at Glasgow". BBC News. Retrieved 18 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "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. 
  12. ^ "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. 
  13. ^ "Ministers scrap airport rail plan". BBC News. 17 September 2009. 
  14. ^ "Statutory Information". Loganair. Retrieved 20 May 2009. Registered Office: St. Andrews Drive, Glasgow Airport PAISLEY Renfrewshire PA3 2TG 
  15. ^ "Emirates Opens Dedicated Lounge at Glasgow Airport - News". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  16. ^ "Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold in £1bn deal". BBC News. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Glasgow Airport outline Master Plan – Draft for Consultation" (PDF). Glasgow Airport. July 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 November 2006. 
  18. ^ [1][dead link]
  19. ^ "Tram-train and light rail plans for Glasgow Airport link". 26 November 2015. Retrieved 24 January 2017 – via 
  20. ^ - Route Map retrieved 15 February 2017
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Ski Holidays 2016/2017 - Get More Winter With Crystal Ski". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  23. ^ "Timetable: Wien - Glasgow". myAustrian Holidays. Retrieved 28 July 2017. 
  24. ^ All Eastern Airways flights to operate under Flybe brand
  25. ^
  26. ^ "Flybe Timetable (SEN-GLA)". Flybe. Retrieved 20 June 2017. 
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ "Welcome to Ryanair". Ryanair. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ 2017, UBM (UK) Ltd. "Thomas Cook UK expands Hurghada routes in W17". Retrieved 24 January 2017. 
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Airport Data 2016". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 3 March 2017. Tables 12.1(XLS) and 12.2 (XLS). Retrieved 16 March 2017. 
  45. ^


  • 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