History of Bristol Airport

Bristol Airport

 Started life as far back as 1927 when local business clubbed together to form Filton aerodrome and two years later farmland at Whitchurch was purchased and Bristol airport was born.In 1930 HRH Prince George officially  opened Bristol airport and this was one of the first civil airports in the country. The airport continued to develope with numbers increasing from 1000 in its first year to 4000 in 1939.

As with all civil airfields the air ministry took over the running of the airport when war broke out and during this period many statesman and actors used Bristol airport to travel to the United States via Lisborn and the Azores.

From the end of the war in 1945 to 1955 Bristol Corporation fought a 10 year battle with the civil aviation authority to have a city airport in Bristol. Fittingly the Duchess of Kent opened the airport  in 1957 whose husband had been killed in the war and had opened the airport back in 1930. The first year saw over 33,000 passengers pass through the airport which was far more than anticipated.

Development of the airport for the next 25 years was modest with improvements to the terminal building, runway and cargo areas . In the 1980’s Bristol airport attracted some major financial companies such as Lloyds TSB and this significantly assisted in increasing domestic airlines setting up there.

In 1982 the George Maggs Lounge was opened after Councillor Maggs who was for many years chairman of the Bristol Airport Committee. The next improvement came in 1984 with major capital investment inthe following areas:

  • Fire Fighting Vehicles and Equipment
  • Departure Lounge and Duty Free
  • Arrivals concourse
  • Baggage systems and check in desks
  • Bristol airport long and short term car parks were built and extended.

1987 saw the landmark transfer of assets from the Corporation to a new Company with a share issue of £19.7 million. Paramount Airways became the first chartered airline to operate out of Bristol airport with flights from Malaga andTenerife.The Brunel lounge was opened in 1987 and in August of that year 98000 customers passed through the airport.

Passenger numbers continued to increase rapidly until 1990/1991 when the recession bit hard and many travel agents were forced out of  busness.By this time annual numbers had reached 840,000 but for the first time passenger numbers were down on the previous year.

The recovery was slow but 1992 saw passengers go over a 1 million and this was further boosted by Air 2000 basing an Airbus A320 at Bristol for the first time. Bristol Brymon Airways for years had underpinned Bristol airport’s growth especially when Briitish Airways took them over.

In 1996/97 Bristol Airport Council sold 51% of the shares to FirstGroup as they were unable to raise sufficient capital to keep pace with the investments required. Following Firstgroup investing £32 million, the old terminal was refurbished at a cost of 27 million.

Macquarie & Cintra acquired the Airport for 198m in 2001

This was later to become the birthplace of Concorde

In 2018 the airport passenger levels had nearly reached 8.4 million.