|Lydd International Airport|
|Operator||London Ashford Airport Ltd.|
|Serves||London, East Sussex and Kent|
|Elevation AMSL||13 ft / 4 m|
Lydd Airport (IATA: LYX, ICAO: EGMD) is located 1.2 NM (2.2 km; 1.4 mi) northeast of the town of Lydd and 12 NM (22 km; 14 mi) south of Ashford in the District of Shepway within Kent, England. Originally named Lydd Ferryfield, it is now also known as London Ashford Airport, although it is over 73 miles from central London, and the name officially refers only to its operator. The airport is operated by London Ashford Airport Ltd, a company ultimately controlled by the Saudi Arabian businessman Sheikh Fahad al-Athel.
Lydd Airport has a CAA Ordinary Licence (Number P858) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (London Ashford Airport Limited). The airport is currently able to handle aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 737 or Airbus A319, but the runway length means that such aircraft can only take off with a restricted payload. Lydd Air is based at the airport, offering regular flights to Le Touquet Airport in northern France, using Piper PA-31 and similar sized aircraft.
The airport lies adjacent to the unique landscape of Dungeness, a Cuspate foreland that is one of the largest expanses of shingle beach in Europe and which is of international conservation importance for its geomorphology, plant and invertebrate communities and birdlife, a fact that is recognised by its designations as a national nature reserve, a Special Protection Area, a Special Area of Conservation and part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest of Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay. This proximity has led to opposition to plans to expand the airport, but the airport has now been granted permission to build a 294 m (965 ft) runway extension and a new terminal building. This will allow it to handle fully loaded Boeing 737 or Airbus A319 aircraft.
Lydd Airport, opened in 1954, was the first airport to be built in the UK following the end of the Second World War. It was built for Silver City Airways as an all-weather replacement operating base to that of nearby Lympne Airport, whose grass runway was often waterlogged in rainy weather. The new Lydd Ferryfield was, like Lympne, used initially for car carrying air ferry services using Bristol Freighters, operating principally to Le Touquet in France. Within 5 years of opening, it was handling over 250,000 passengers annually, making it one of the busiest airports in the UK.
Silver City Airways subsequently became part of British United Air Ferries (BUAF), under the same ownership as British United Airways (BUA). The airlines used Bristol Freighters, Superfreighters and Aviation Traders Carvair aircraft on their car-carrying routes from Lydd. However the introduction of roll-on/roll-off ferries and hovercraft on cross-channel services led to a decline of the air ferry services from Lydd.
The Skyways cargo operation (that survived Dan-Air's takeover of Skyways International's passenger operations in February 1972) used three DC-3s from Air Freight Ltd which it had acquired from Skyways Air Cargo, the defunct airline's cargo subsidiary, in 1970.
Following Skyways Coach-Air's liquidation in early 1971, Air Freight initially continued the former Skyways Air Cargo operation under its own name and, in February 1973, merged with South West Aviation.
The closure of Ashford Airport in 1974 resulted in the relocation of Air Freight's headquarters and operating base to nearby Lydd Airport, where it operated using both DC-3's for cargo and Fairchild Hiller FH-227 turboprops for combined passenger and cargo operations across the UK, Channel Islands and Europe (mainly Amsterdam and Paris).
During the 1980s the airport was bought by Hards Travel from Solihull, who used the airport (along with Coventry Airport) as its base for its holiday operations to Spain, Italy and Austria, using Dart Herald and Viscount aircraft flying to Beauvais in France, where customers were transferred to coaches for the remainder of the journey. During this time Hards operated 14 flights a day from the airport, and used the large fields surrounding the airport for car parking. The main brand Hards traded under was Summer-Plan, and in the winter Ski-Plan, as well as HTS Holidays.
Expansion of the airport was approved in 2014 following a legal challenge by Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Lydd Airport Action (LAAG) Group. The expansion includes a runway extension of almost 300 m (980 ft) and a new terminal building. It is costed at £25 million.
On 9 July 2015, the Airbus E-Fan took off from Lydd Airport for a flight to Calais-Dunkerque Airport. Initially this was claimed as the first electric aircraft to cross the English Channel, but it has since been pointed out that there were previous such flights, including one as long ago as 1981.
Airlines and destinations
Accidents and incidents
- On 15 January 1958, de Havilland Dove G-AOCE of Channel Airways crashed at Dungeness whilst attempting to land at Ferryfield. The accident was due to a double engine failure caused by mismanagement of the aircraft's fuel system by the pilot. All seven people on board survived.
- On 17 August 1978, Douglas C-47B G-AMSM of Skyways Cargo Airline was damaged beyond economic repair in a take-off accident.
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