Liverpool John Lennon Airport

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Liverpool John Lennon Airport
Liverpool John Lennon Airport logo.svg
John Lennon airport.jpg
OwnerPeel Airports
OperatorLiverpool Airport Ltd.[1]
ServesLiverpool City Region, North West England, North Wales
LocationSpeke, Liverpool, England
Opened1 July 1933; 88 years ago (1933-07-01)
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL81 ft / 25 m
Coordinates53°20′01″N 002°50′59″W / 53.33361°N 2.84972°W / 53.33361; -2.84972Coordinates: 53°20′01″N 002°50′59″W / 53.33361°N 2.84972°W / 53.33361; -2.84972
EGGP is located in Merseyside
Location in Merseyside
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 2,285 7,497 Asphalt
Statistics (2019)
Passenger change 18–19Increase0%
Aircraft movements58,968
Movements change 18–19Decrease1%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[2]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[3]

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (IATA: LPL, ICAO: EGGP) is an international airport located in Liverpool, England. The airport is within the City of Liverpool on the banks of the estuary of the River Mersey 6.5 nautical miles (12.0 km; 7.5 mi) south-east of Liverpool city centre.[2] Scheduled domestic, European, North African and Middle Eastern[4] services are operated from the airport. The airport comprises a single passenger terminal, three general use hangars, a FedEx Express courier service centre as well as a single runway measuring 7,500 ft (2,286 m) in length, with the control tower south of the runway.

Originally called Speke Airport, the airport was renamed after Liverpudlian musician John Lennon of the Beatles in 2001. On the outbreak of World War II, the airport was operated by the RAF and known as RAF Speke. Between 1997 and 2007, the facility was one of Europe's fastest-growing airports, increasing annual passenger numbers from 689,468 in 1997 to 5.47 million in 2007.[3] Despite passenger numbers having decreased to as low as 3.98 million in 2013, in 2019 the airport handled 5.05 million passengers, making it the 13th-busiest airport in the UK.[5]


Imperial Airways[edit]

Built in part of the grounds of Speke Hall, Liverpool (Speke) Airport, as the airport was originally known, started scheduled flights in 1930 with a service by Imperial Airways via Barton Aerodrome near Eccles, Salford and Castle Bromwich Aerodrome, Birmingham to Croydon Airport near London. The airport was officially opened on 1 July 1933.[6] By the late 1930s, air traffic from Liverpool was beginning to take off with increasing demand for Irish Sea crossings, and a distinctive passenger terminal, control tower and two large aircraft hangars were built.[7]

Second World War[edit]

At the beginning of 1937 Liverpool City Council leased between 70 and 110 acres of their Speke Estate on a 999-year lease to the Air Ministry. The price included at all times the use of Speke Airport next to the shadow factory site. The LMS Railway provided a siding. Erection of the building was planned to take 30 weeks and when complete it would provide employment for more than 5,000 people. It was to be managed by Rootes Securities on behalf of the Air Ministry. Work started Monday 15 February 1937.[8]

During the Second World War, Speke was requisitioned by the Royal Air Force and known as RAF Speke. Rootes built in a "shadow factory" by the airport Bristol Blenheims and 1,070 Handley Page Halifax bombers.[9] Lockheed Aircraft Corporation assembled many types of planes at the airport, including Hudsons and Mustang fighters, that had been shipped from the United States in parts to Liverpool Docks. The airport was also home to the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit.[6]

On 8 October 1940 (one day before John Lennon's birth), Speke was witness to what is thought to be the fastest air-to-air combat "kill" in the Battle of Britain and possibly of all time. Flight Lieutenant Denys Gillam took off in his Hawker Hurricane from Speke to be confronted by a Junkers 88 passing across him. He shot the Junkers down while his undercarriage was still retracting, and, along with Alois Vašátko and Josef Stehlík, all of 312 Squadron, was credited with the kill. The moment has been caught in a painting by Robert Taylor called Fastest Victory.[10][11]

Civil airport[edit]

The old terminal building, used between the 1930s and 1986, now the Crowne Plaza Liverpool John Lennon Airport Hotel

Normal civil airline operations resumed after VE-day and passengers increased from 50,000 in 1945 to 75,000 in 1948, remaining ahead of Manchester Airport. Ownership by the Ministry of Aviation proved to be a drag on the airport's progress thereafter and Manchester gained the lead from 1949, resulting in Liverpool's loss of the only ground-controlled radar approach unit available to North West airports, further hampering operation.[citation needed]

During the post-war years, Speke Airport hosted an annual air display in aid of the Soldiers, Sailors, and Air Force Association, a charity for veterans. The displays were immensely popular and attracted a huge crowd. On one such occasion on 21 May 1956, tragedy struck with the death of Léon Alfred Nicolas "Léo" Valentin, billed as the Birdman, when his balsa wood wings struck the opening of the aircraft from which he was exiting and he was hurtled into an uncontrollable spin. He attempted to deploy his emergency parachute, but it became entangled and 'Roman candled', leaving Leo to fall to his death. The local newspaper headlined the story with "The world has been robbed of a daring personality." Ironically, a few years earlier Valentin had been attributed with discovering the free-fall stable position still used by sports parachutists today for safe deployment.[citation needed]

New runway[edit]

The city took over control of the airport on 1 January 1961 and prepared development plans. In 1966, a new 7,500 ft (2,286 m) runway was opened by Prince Philip on a new site to the southeast of the existing airfield. It enabled the airport to be open for business around the clock and is in use to this day. Control of the airport transferred to Merseyside County Council from Liverpool Corporation in the mid-1970s and then, ten years later, to the five Merseyside councils following the abolition of Merseyside County Council. In 1982, Pope John Paul II visited and met crowds at the old Liverpool airport.

Old Terminal (1986)[edit]

A modern passenger terminal adjacent to the new runway opened in 1986 followed by the closure of the original 1930s building.[12]

The original terminal building dating from the late 1930s, famously seen on early television footage with its terraces packed with Beatles fans, was left derelict until converted into a hotel, opening in 2001, preserving its Grade II listed Art Deco style. It was part of the Marriott chain of hotels, but is currently the Crowne Plaza Liverpool John Lennon Airport Hotel after a renovation in August 2008.[13] The former apron of the terminal is also listed and retained in its original condition, although it is no longer connected to the airport or subject to airside access control. It is the home of several aircraft, including BAe Jetstream 41 prototype G-JMAC and Bristol Britannia G-ANCF, preserved by the Speke Aerodrome Heritage Group.[citation needed] The two art-deco-style hangars that flank the terminal and apron have also been converted for new uses: one is now a David Lloyd leisure centre, the other the headquarters of the Shop Direct Group, called Skyways House.[13][14][15][16]

In 1990 the airport was privatised, with British Aerospace taking a 76% shareholding in the new company. Subsequently, the airport has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Peel Holdings.[6]

New Terminal & Liverpool John Lennon Airport (2001)[edit]

Check-in hall interior
Aerial view of the airport - the passenger terminal, parking and general aviation hangars (in the top-right corner).

In 2000, work on a £42.5 million passenger terminal began, tripling its size and passenger capacity, completed in 2002 and opened by Her Majesty, The Queen. There have since been further extensions to the airport terminal and airside. The airport's strategy is to cater largely for 'low cost' operators, and consequently the layout of the terminal and gates requires passengers to walk unprotected from the weather to and from passenger aircraft.[citation needed]

In 2001, 21 years after his death, the airport was renamed in honour of the Beatles' John Lennon, becoming the first airport in the UK to be named after an individual.[17] A 7 ft (2.1 m) tall bronze statue stands overlooking the check-in hall. On the roof is painted the airport's motto, a line from Lennon's song "Imagine": "Above us, only sky."[18]

In 2005 the Yellow Submarine, a large-scale work of art, was installed on a traffic island at the entrance to the airport. A permanent exhibition of The Beatles in India's photographs made in 1968 at the Ashram of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, (founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique), by Paul Saltzman can be seen above the retail units in the departure lounge.[19]

2005 also saw the construction of a brand-new apron, exclusively for EasyJet, to the east of the terminal with six stands and a pier with six boarding gates.

In September 2006 reconstruction started on the main runway and taxiways. This was the first time the runway had been reconstructed (as opposed to resurfaced) since it was opened in 1966. This work was completed in 2007.[20] In addition to runway and shoulder work was the upgrade of the 40-year-old airfield group lighting with a new system, intended to upgrade the runway to ILS Category III standards.[20]

In 2007 construction of a multi-level car park[21] and a budget Hampton by Hilton Liverpool/John Lennon Airport started. The hotel opened in October 2009.[22] In June 2010 Vancouver Airport Services announced that it reached an agreement with The Peel Group to acquire 65% share in its airports, including Liverpool.[23] Airside improvements include additional retail units and a more advanced security area aiming at reducing waiting times, completed in autumn 2010.[24]

April 2014 saw Peel repurchase the 65% stake it had sold in the airport giving it 100% ownership once more.[25] In March 2016, Peel sold a 20% stake in the airport to Liverpool City Council for a reported £12m. This valued the airport at £60m.[26] From 2019 to early 2020, the airport completed some renovation works which made it even easier to get around and also more aesthetically pleasing. [27] This included changing the gate numbers from Gates 30–43 to Gates 11–17, in order to make the gates larger and more spacious, which also involved removing two by merging gates together. In addition, the departure hall, security hall and the entire experience throughout the airport has been altered massively by new decorations and images promoting the surrounding region. [28]

Future expansion[edit]

Future developments include the potential estimated £100 million investments in the airport infrastructure - this includes a runway extension (enabling transatlantic/long-haul flights)[29] as well as a new cargo area south of the runway, new taxiway, terminal expansion (including new food/drink outlets, larger security areas as well as 3 new piers/concourses), hotel/parking expansion as well as the plans for a new A-road to enhance motorway connections to the facilities.[30][31] In addition to this, the airport also wants to build a nature reserve on the coastal perimeter of the Oglet Shore.[32] Plans also include schemes to improve public transport connections to the airport, including new bus and rail services to South Parkway.


The single terminal at Liverpool John Lennon Airport has a capacity of 7 million passengers a year[33] and consists of an arrivals and departures hall, both connected within short walking distance of each other. There are no jetbridges or travelators at Liverpool, requiring passengers to walk to/from the departure/arrival halls and gates.

There are a number of retail and food outlets located within the airport including a duty free section for departing passengers. Arrivals facilities are limited. [34]

Airport directors[edit]

Captain Harold James Andrews was appointed as the first Airport Manager in July 1932, and he was effectively the first full-time professional co-ordinator for the whole project. Jack Chadwick took over many of the management functions post-war until 1961. That year there was a traffic increase of 42%, attributed to the first airport marketing campaign initiated by the new Airport Director, Wing Commander H.W.G.Andrews.[35]

In the late 1960s, Brian Trunkfield MBE was a much-respected Assistant Director, and Keith Porter took over as Airport Director in the days when The Beatles were regular passengers.[36] Chris Preece, a former executive of British Aerospace, was Airport Director during much of the British Aerospace years of ownership, replaced by Rod Rufus and then Rod Hill, who brought in Direct Holidays, part of the MyTravel Group on a commercial deal which was to prove the market for easyJet. Neil Pakey took over as Managing Director in 2002, taking the airport through its major passenger growth years.

On selling the airport to Vancouver Airport Services in 2010, the former Operations Director for Vancouver Airport, Craig Richmond, took over, and on 1 March 2013, Matthew Thomas, also from Vancouver Airport Services (by then renamed Vantage Airport Group), was appointed to the role.[37] Andrew Cornish held the CEO position from September 2014 until the end of June 2017.[38] John Irving became the new CEO with effect from 12 March 2018.[39]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from Liverpool:[40]

Blue Air Bucharest
easyJet Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Belfast–International, Faro, Geneva, Isle of Man, Jersey, Kraków, Lanzarote, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Antalya, Bodrum, Bournemouth, Dalaman, Grenoble, Larnaca, Madrid, Malta, Nice, Rhodes, Salzburg, Zakynthos
Loganair Derry, Isle of Man
Ryanair Alicante, Barcelona, Beauvais (begins 2 November 2021),[41] Bergamo (begins 1 November 2021),[42] Cork, Dublin, Faro, Fuerteventura, Kaunas, Knock, Košice, Kraków, Málaga, Malta, Porto, Poznań, Rome–Fiumicino, Sibiu (begins 1 November 2021),[43] Sofia, Stockholm–Arlanda (begins 2 November 2021),[44] Szczecin, Tallinn (begins 31 October 2021),[45] Tenerife–South, Vienna, Vilnius, Warsaw–Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Bergerac, Copenhagen, Corfu, Gran Canaria (resumes 27 March 2022),[46] Ibiza, Kos, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Reus
Wizz Air Bacău, Bucharest, Budapest, Chișinău, Cluj-Napoca, Gdańsk, Iași, Katowice, Rome–Fiumicino (begins 2 November 2021),[47] Tirana (begins 10 December 2021),[48] Varna, Vilnius, Warsaw–Chopin
Seasonal: Burgas


Passengers and aircraft movements[edit]

See source Wikidata query and sources.

Number of passengers[3] % Change
Number of movements[3] % Change
1997 689,468 - 83,354 -
1998 873,172 Increase 26.6 86,871 Increase 4.2
1999 1,304,959 Increase 49.5 75,489 Decrease 13.1
2000 1,982,711 Increase 51.9 76,257 Increase 1.0
2001 2,253,398 Increase 13.7 74,659 Decrease 2.1
2002 2,835,871 Increase 25.8 74,313 Decrease 0.5
2003 3,177,009 Increase 12.0 84,405 Increase 13.6
2004 3,353,350 Increase 5.6 85,393 Increase 1.2
2005 4,411,243 Increase 31.5 92,970 Increase 8.9
2006 4,963,886 Increase 12.5 91,263 Decrease 1.8
2007 5,468,510 Increase 10.2 86,668 Decrease 5.0
2008 5,334,152 Decrease 2.5 84,890 Decrease 2.1
2009 4,884,494 Decrease 8.4 79,298 Decrease 6.6
2010 5,013,940 Increase 2.7 68,164 Decrease 14.0
2011 5,251,161 Increase 4.7 69,055 Increase 1.3
2012 4,463,257 Decrease 15.0 60,270 Decrease 12.7
2013 4,187,439 Decrease 6.2 55,839 Decrease 7.4
2014 3,986,654 Decrease 4.8 52,249 Decrease 6.4
2015 4,301,495 Increase 7.9 55,905 Increase 7.0
2016 4,778,939 Increase 11.1 62,441 Increase 11.7
2017 4,901,157 Increase 3.0 56,643 Decrease 9.0
2018 5,042,312 Increase 3.0 59,320 Increase 5.0
2019 5,043,975 Steady 0.0 58,968 Decrease 1.0

Route statistics[edit]

Busiest routes to and from Liverpool (2018)[49]
Rank Airport Total
2017/ 18
1 United Kingdom Belfast–International 498,603 Increase 1.6%
2 Republic of Ireland Dublin 380,437 Decrease 5.2%
3 Spain Alicante 287,207 Increase 10.3%
4 Spain Málaga 268,490 Increase 9.0%
5 Isle of Man Isle of Man 255,659 Increase 11.4%
6 Spain Barcelona 240,513 Increase 4.6%
7 Spain Palma de Mallorca 225,682 Increase 3.6%
8 Netherlands Amsterdam 220,517 Decrease 0.2%
9 Portugal Faro 197,740 Increase 5.6%
10 Jersey Jersey 135,030 Increase 5.0%
11 Switzerland Geneva 124,449 Increase 2.3%
12 Poland Kraków 102,975 Increase 1.0%
13 France Nice 94,964 Increase 1.8%
14 France Paris–Charles de Gaulle 87,697 Increase 16.0%
15 Republic of Ireland Knock 85,738 Increase 0.1%
16 Czech Republic Prague 74,753 Increase 34.1%
17 Spain Lanzarote 74,595 Decrease 0.8%
18 Republic of Ireland Cork 71,757 Decrease 0.9%
19 Poland Warsaw-Modlin 70,915 Decrease 0.8%
20 Romania Bucharest 68,304 Increase 7.9%

Ground transport[edit]

Liverpool South Parkway railway station was built to improve links to the airport
Long-distance trains from Liverpool South Parkway

Liverpool John Lennon Airport is within Merseytravel Area C, for local public transport tickets. Plusbus tickets are also available. The Arriva North West 80A & 86A route to/from Liverpool city centre is now the way to Liverpool South Parkway and Liverpool One bus station.[50]


The airport has several on-site car-parks[51] and is accessible from the A533 / Runcorn Widnes Bridge to the south, and from the M57 and Knowsley Expressway to the north.[52]


The nearest station is the Merseyrail Hunts Cross at 2.2 miles away, which is served by a direct bus service to the airport by the Arriva North West 89 service. Merseytravel replaced Garston and Allerton stations with Liverpool South Parkway at 2.9 miles from the airport at a cost of £32 million. Regular bus services, 80A & 86A operate between the Airport and the station, operated by Arriva North West.

Bus and coach[edit]

Regular bus services link the airport with surrounding urban areas. Most buses that run to the airport are operated by Arriva North West, they connect local urban areas to the airport such as St Helens, Bootle, Halewood, Runcorn, Widnes, Huyton, Garston and Liverpool City Centre Liverpool One bus station[53] Arriva operates a 24-hour 86A service to the airport from Liverpool city centre via Penny Lane and Liverpool South Parkway.[54] Merseytravel also runs a service from the airport (3A/3B) which terminates at Huyton Industrial Estate, the service is operated by HTL Buses. In 2018 ArrivaClick commenced servicing the airport.[55]



The Hampton by Hilton Liverpool John Lennon Airport

The original terminal building dating from the late 1930s, famously seen on 1960s television footage with its terraces packed with Beatles fans, was left derelict for over a decade after being replaced in 1986. It was renovated and adapted to become a hotel, opened for business in 2001, preserving its Grade II listed Art Deco style. It was part of the Marriott chain of hotels, but later the Crowne Plaza Liverpool John Lennon Airport Hotel after a renovation in August 2008.[13]

The Hampton by Hilton Liverpool/John Lennon Airport is one of four Hilton Worldwide hotels in Liverpool. It is situated directly opposite the main terminal building, and is the second largest hotel serving the complex after the Crowne Plaza.[56] The hotel was constructed as part of a £37 million development by Peel Holdings at John Lennon Airport (which also included a multi-storey car park), the Hampton by Hilton Liverpool/John Lennon Airport is also the first hotel to be built actually attached to the airport's terminal building.[57]

Accidents and incidents[edit]

See also[edit]


  • Phil Butler Liverpool Airport - an Illustrated History. Tempus Publishing, Stroud, 2004. ISBN 0-7524-3168-4.
  • Gabi Dolff-Bonekämper: Berlin-Tempelhof in: Berlin-Tempelhof, Liverpool-Speke, Paris-Le Bourget. Années 30 Architecture des aéroports, Airport Architecture of the Thierties, Flughafenarchitektur der dreißiger Jahre. Éditions du patrimoine, Paris 2000, ISBN 2-85822-328-9, S. 32–61.
  • Bob Hawkins (ed.): Historic airports. Proceedings of the international "L'Europe de l'Air" conferences on Aviation Architecture Liverpool (1999), Berlin (2000), Paris (2001). English Heritage, London 2005, ISBN 1-873592-83-3.


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External links[edit]

Media related to Liverpool John Lennon Airport at Wikimedia Commons