Newquay Airport

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Cornwall Airport Newquay

Ayrborth Tewynblustri Kernow

RAF St Mawgan
Newquay airport logo.svg
Newquay Cornwall airport.jpg
Airport typePublic/Military
OwnerCornwall Council
OperatorCornwall Airport Ltd.
ServesNewquay and Cornwall
LocationMawgan in Pydar, Cornwall
Elevation AMSL390 ft / 119 m
Coordinates50°26′27″N 004°59′43″W / 50.44083°N 4.99528°W / 50.44083; -4.99528Coordinates: 50°26′27″N 004°59′43″W / 50.44083°N 4.99528°W / 50.44083; -4.99528 Edit this at Wikidata
EGHQ is located in Cornwall
Location in Cornwall
Direction Length Surface
m ft
12/30 2,744 9,003 Grooved
Statistics (2019)
Passenger change 18-19Increase1.0%
Aircraft Movements46,338
Movements change 18-19Increase12.5%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Cornwall Airport Newquay (IATA: NQY, ICAO: EGHQ) is the main commercial airport for Cornwall, England, located at Mawgan in Pydar, 4 NM (7.4 km; 4.6 mi) northeast of the town of Newquay on Cornwall's north coast. Its runway was operated by RAF St Mawgan before 2008, and is now owned by Cornwall Council.

The airport handled 461,300 passengers in 2017, a 24.2% increase over the previous year.[2] Newquay has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. The Cornwall Air Ambulance is based at the airport. Since 2012, the airport has hosted the Aerohub enterprise zone.

The runway can take the largest and fastest of civil and military aircraft, having been built and maintained for decades as an RAF maritime operations base. The US Navy were present with the USN AWD storage facility and Joint Maritime Facility. With the end of the Cold War and changes in American political priorities, the Americans pulled out of all involvement with the base by the end of 2009. The last RAF flying squadron based at St Mawgan was 203(R) Squadron which moved out in 2008, but the RAF continues to use part of the site.


Military use[edit]

The airfield was opened in 1933 as a civilian facility, but was requisitioned at the outbreak of World War II and named RAF Trebelzue to support other bases in the Cornwall area. The base was renamed RAF St Mawgan in 1943, after expansion. The facility was then handed to the USAAF and there were a number of improvements, including the building of a new control tower and expansion of the current runway. The airfield was put under maintenance in 1947, and reopened as a Coastal Command base in 1951.

Since 1951, aircraft squadron which have operated at the station have included 7 Sqn., 22 Sqn., 203 Sqn. (Sea King OCU, 1996–2008); 220 Sqn (later renamed 201); 228 Sqn. (later renamed 206), both Long Range Reconnaissance Squadrons; No. 42 Squadron RAF (BAe Nimrod) (disbanded 1992), No. 236 Operational Conversion Unit RAF, the Nimrod front-line conversion-to-type unit (1970-1992). In addition, Royal Air Force Regiment squadrons No. 1 Squadron RAF Regiment and 2625 Sqn (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) were present. 2625 Sqn was disbanded on 1 November 2006, whilst 1 Sqn RAF Regt relocated to RAF Honington. The others relocated or closed. In 2005, RAF St Mawgan was one of the bases shortlisted to house the new Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) in 2013, but in November 2005, it was announced by Minister of State for the Armed Forces Adam Ingram that the operation would be based from Scotland. Helicopter maintenance (HMF) also ceased here in late 2006.[citation needed]

Flying operations at RAF St Mawgan (on the opposite side of the runway to the civil terminal) ceased in December 2008.

Transition to fully civilian airport[edit]

Looking over the ramp at some of the airlines that serve NQY in Summer 2007

In 2006 the airport introduced a £5 per passenger airport development fee, payable by all departing passengers via an ATM type machine prior to passing security.[3] This resulted in Monarch Airlines axing its route from the airport (to Málaga) and in Ryanair reducing the number of flights, though this was later restored. In 2015, it was announced that the £5 development fee would be scrapped in March 2016.

In 2008, the airport closed from 1 to 19 December, to allow time for the takeover of the airfield navigation services (i.e. Air Traffic Control) from RAF St Mawgan and to fully meet CAA standards. Following further inspections by the CAA, flights recommenced on 20 December 2008.[4]

By virtue of a Statutory Instrument issued on 22 September 2009, Newquay Airport is subject to current airport bylaws, per Section 63 of the Airports Act 1986.[5]

An extension opened in 2006 increased the terminal's size by 20%, allowing the airport to handle up to 450,000 passengers a year. In January 2008, Cornwall County Council approved plans for an expanded arrivals hall and departure lounge; a new retail outlet; a business lounge; and new airfield structures. In May 2008, the new arrivals and baggage reclaim area was opened; unlike the old arrivals hall, this allowed domestic and international flights to be processed simultaneously. It also added a gate to the departures lounge.

The expansion of the airport was criticised in 2007 by a number of environmental groups. This opposition was based not only on environmental concerns (given that the majority of flights are short-haul and to destinations that could be served by rail), but also socio-economic concerns that airport expansion would lead to a greater demand for second homes in Cornwall, adding to already inflated local house prices.[6]

Civil airport operation[edit]

The Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair pulled out of the airport in 2006, ceasing flights to London Stansted and Girona-Costa Brava Airport.[7] In November 2008, Newquay Airport released its draft master plan, outlining its plans for the airport until 2030.[8]

In July 2011, the airport's main carrier, Air Southwest, announced the end of all flights from Newquay effective 30 September 2011, leaving the airport with only three year-round scheduled routes.[9]

In May 2013, Flybe announced they would cease flying to Gatwick, leaving Newquay with year-round flights to just the Isles of Scilly and Manchester. On 2 December 2013, Flybe announced they had agreed a deal with Newquay which would secure the future of the Gatwick route until the end of October 2014, so that a public service obligation (PSO) subsidy could be finalised. Under the new deal Flybe was to operate two daily flights, with the afternoon service being dropped.[10]

Ryanair returned to the airport in April 2016, after the £5 development fee was scrapped.[11]

On 5 March 2020, Flybe ceased trading, leaving Cornwall with no year-round direct flights to London once again. British Airways announced a six-flight-per-week summer schedule to London, commencing initially in Easter 2020. However, the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts on aviation resulted in the service launch being postponed. The service was eventually launched on the 24th July 2020 albeit as a year-round service under a Public Service Obligation Emergency Order which lasts until February 2021. During this period, Department for Transport will run the tender process for the four-year contract which will begin in March 2021.[12]

Aerohub enterprise zone[edit]

In August 2011, the UK government announced that the airport's bid to host an enterprise zone for aerospace businesses had been successful.[13] The Aerohub enterprise zone was launched in April 2012.[14] In September 2014, the UK's Homes and Communities Agency and the European Regional Development Fund agreed to fund the construction of a £6 million Aerohub Business Park.[15] Organisations attracted to Aerohub by 2014 included Classic Air Force and the Bloodhound Supersonic Car project.[14]

From 29 March 2013, Classic Air Force has operated from the airport using a variety of aircraft,[16] including the world's oldest flying British jet aircraft and the only flying Gloster Meteor T7.[17] From April 2013 until 2017, it has also operated a museum in the 70,000 square feet (6,500 m2) Hangar 404, which was previously used to service the Hawker Siddeley Nimrods of RAF St Mawgan.[16] Some of the now-closed museum's exhibits remain elsewhere on the airfield under different ownership. Since 2015, a new venture known as 'Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre' (CAHC), was opened at the Aerohub.[18]

Testing of Bloodhound at speeds of over 200 mph (320 km/h) was performed on the runway in 2017[19] in preparation for a 500 mph (800 km/h) test run on its new specially created race track at Hakskeen Pan, South Africa in 2019, leading to an attempt on the land speed record in the future.[20]

Potential future uses[edit]

In September 2013, the National Aeronautical Centre (NAC) at Aberporth Airport announced it would use Newquay as its second airport for testing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).[21] The NAC said it was attracted by the length of the runway and the facilities of Aerohub. The test flights would require 3,000 square miles (7,800 km2) of segregated airspace over the sea.[22] In March 2015, the airport reported that the establishment of this segregated area had not yet been agreed with the Department for Transport, who stated that negotiations with international bodies to create an appropriate regulatory framework for UAVs were still taking place.[23]

In July 2014, Newquay was one of eight airports shortlisted by the Civil Aviation Authority as a possible site for a UK commercial spaceport.[24] The shortlist was reduced to six airports in March 2015, with Newquay still a candidate.[25] The selection process was abandoned in May 2016 after the Department for Transport announced it would be creating regulatory conditions allowing any suitable location wishing to become a spaceport.[26]

In June 2019, the UK government and Cornwall Council announced they were prepared to invest up to £20M into the airport to create a Spaceport Cornwall as a base for Virgin Orbit. The system would launch satellite carrying rockets to space from under the wing of a converted Virgin Atlantic jumbo jet by the early 2020s dependent on the business case put forward.[27] On 5 November 2019, UK Space Agency announced that it will provide £7.35M to establish Virgin Orbit operations at Spaceport Cornwall.[28]

Airlines and destinations[edit]

The following airlines have operated regular scheduled and charter services to and from Newquay to August 2020:[29]

Aer Lingus Regional Dublin
Seasonal: Cork[30]
Blue Islands Seasonal: Jersey
British Airways London–Heathrow
Eastern Airways Leeds/Bradford
Seasonal: Teesside
easyJet Seasonal: Glasgow (begins 25 May 2021),[31] Manchester (begins 24 May 2021)[31]
Edelweiss Air Seasonal: Zurich (begins 4 July 2021)[32]
Eurowings Seasonal: Düsseldorf
Isles of Scilly Skybus St Mary's
Loganair[33] Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Teesside
Ryanair Alicante
Seasonal: Faro

Traffic statistics[edit]

Passengers and movements[edit]

Cornwall Airport Newquay passenger totals 2015–2019 (thousands)
Updated: 28 March 2020[2]
Traffic statistics at Cornwall Airport Newquay
% change
% change
% change
2015 251,987 Steady 22,848 Steady 0 Steady
2016 371,500 Increase 47.4 30,417 Increase 33.1 2 Increase nm
2017 461,300 Increase 24.2 37,113 Increase 22.0 12 Increase 500.0
2018 456,888 Decrease 1.0 41,172 Increase 10.9 3 Decrease 75.0
2019 461,478 Increase 1.0 46,338 Increase 12.5 2 Decrease 33.3
Busiest routes to and from Cornwall Airport Newquay (2019)[2]
Rank Airport Total
1 London–Heathrow 141,230 Steady New route
2 Manchester 81,762 Decrease 2.0%
3 London–Gatwick 40,404 Decrease 76.7%
4 Alicante 34,724 Increase 27.8%
5 Dublin 30,534 Increase 4.7%
6 Faro 21,439 Increase 2.7%
7 Birmingham 20,802 Decrease 11.6%
8 Leeds Bradford 17,672 Decrease 23.3%
9 St Mary's 17,319 Decrease 6.0%
10 London–Southend 15,721 Steady New route

Based units[edit]

Newquay airport is home to:


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  16. ^ a b FlyPast. Stamford, Lincolnshire: Key Publishing Ltd. March 2013. p. 6.
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  20. ^ "BLOODHOUND 500 – SOUTH AFRICA 2019". 15 December 2017. Archived from the original on 24 July 2018. Retrieved 24 July 2018.
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  25. ^ Amos, Jonathan (3 March 2015). "UK ministers issue spaceport shortlist". BBC News Online. Archived from the original on 3 March 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2015.
  26. ^ McArdle, Helen (20 May 2016). "UK spaceport competition axed in favour of licensing model". The Herald - Scotland. Archived from the original on 11 June 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
  27. ^ Amos, Jonathan (4 June 2019). "Investment offer to take Cornwall and Virgin into orbit". BBC News Website - Science & Environment. Archived from the original on 14 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  28. ^
  29. ^ - Flights retrieved 15 August 2020
  30. ^
  31. ^ a b "easyJet launches new flights from Newquay Airport". easyJet. 11 February 2021.
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  34. ^ "Aircraft Data G-CRWL, 2019 Leonardo AW-169 C/N 69100". Retrieved 9 September 2020.
  35. ^ Group, Bristow. "Latest News -". Bristow Group. Retrieved 9 September 2020.

External links[edit]

Media related to Newquay Cornwall Airport at Wikimedia Commons