The airport was formerly a RAF station and was purchased by the councils of Nottingham, Derby and Leicester. The airport was officially opened in 1965 and was a modest affair with a short runway of less than 6000ft and only 60ft wide. The expansion of the airport in the 70’s was driven as much by the increasing freight passing through the airport than passenger levels. A new freight terminal was built and the runway extended twice in the seventies.
A million passengers in a year was eventually reached in 1985 and Princess Anne opened a new passenger terminal the following year at a cost of £3 million. In 1987 local authorities for legal reasons were no longer able to operate the airport on a partnership basis and a private Limited Company was formed with the council members as shareholders.
Airport development is a costly business and revenue returns have to be looked at in the long term. The councils decided in 1993 that they were unable to commit to such funding requirements and the airport was historically sold to National express Group for £24 million. Having easier access to capital National Express invested nearly 80 million during the next 8 years, including an adding 600 metres to the runway, which was an important step to being able to secure long haul flights previously denied.
National Express sold the airport in 2001 along with Bournemouth airport to the Manchester Group whose shareholders ironically are the councils of greater Manchester. The Manchester group experience in developing Manchester airport was no doubt paramount in this decision and East Midlands’ airport has never looked back since this purchase with unprecedented rise in passenger levels.
This has been accompanied by major freight development boosted by DHL to establish its headquarters on airport at a cost of £35 million. The adjacent business park is fully occupied and major hotel groups are now established on site.Once again the catalyst for this growth has been the low cost flyers such as bmibaby and Easyjet, which has driven passenger, levels over 2.5 million.
East Midlands is a super airport to travel from and is growing year on year. To make the most of your visit to the East Midlands consider a East Midlands hotel parking option or if travelling locally to the airport select from a choice of both on and off East Midlands airport parking