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Glasgow International Airport
Port-adhair Eadar-nàiseanta Ghlaschu
BAA Glasgow logo.png
Glasgow International Airport Terminal.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator BAA
Serves Glasgow
Location Paisley, Renfrewshire, Greater Glasgow
Hub for
Elevation AMSL 26 ft / 8 m
Coordinates 55°52′19″N 004°25′59″W / 55.87194°N 4.43306°W / 55.87194; -4.43306Coordinates: 55°52′19″N 004°25′59″W / 55.87194°N 4.43306°W / 55.87194; -4.43306
Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 2,658 8,720 Grooved Asphalt
09/27 1,104 3,622 Asphalt
Statistics (2009)
Aircraft Movements 85,281
Passengers 7,225,021
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Location BAA Glasgow[3]

Glasgow International Airport (Scottish Gaelic: Port-adhair Eadar-nàiseanta Ghlaschu) (IATA: GLAICAO: EGPF) (formerly Glasgow Abbotsinch Airport) is located 6 NM (11 km; 6.9 mi)[1] west of Glasgow city centre, near the towns of Paisley and Renfrew in Renfrewshire.

In 2009 the airport handled 7,225,021 passengers, an 11.7% annual reduction, making it the 2nd busiest in Scotland, and eighth busiest airport in the United Kingdom. It was the first airport in Scotland to handle over one million passengers in one month, in July 2004.[4]

There are plans for expansion of the airport, with passenger numbers expected to reach over 24 million per annum by 2030.

The airport is owned and operated by BAA, which also owns and operates five other UK airports,[5] and is itself owned by ADI Limited, an international consortium, which includes Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and GIC Special Investments, that is led by the Spanish Ferrovial Group.[6]

Glasgow International Airport is a hub airport for BMI Regional, EasyJet, Flybe and Loganair, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways, and also houses maintenance facilities for British Airways.

The other international airport branded as a Glasgow destination is Glasgow Prestwick Airport, situated 29 mi (47 km) from the city centre, serving mainly low cost airlines.



The history of the present Glasgow Airport goes back to 1932, when the site at Abbotsinch, between the Black Cart Water and the White Cart Water, near Paisley in Renfrewshire, was opened and the Royal Air Force 602 Squadron (City of Glasgow) Auxiliary Air Force moved its Wapiti IIA aircraft from nearby Renfrew in January 1933.[7] The RAF Station HQ, however, was not formed until 1 July 1936 when 6 Auxiliary Group, Bomber Command, arrived.[7] From May 1939, until moving away in October 1939, the Squadron flew the Supermarine Spitfire.


In 1940 a torpedo training unit was formed, which trained both RAF and Royal Navy crews.[7] On 11 August 1943 Abbotsinch was handed over solely to the Royal Navy and it became a naval base. All Her Majesty's Ships and naval bases are given names and Abbotsinch's was known as HMS Sanderling since June 1940.[7] During the 1950s, the airfield housed a large aircraft storage unit and squadrons of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

The Royal Navy left in October 1963.[7] The name Sanderling was however retained as a link between the two: HMS Sanderling's ship's bell was presented to the new airport and a bar in the airport was named The Sanderling Bar.


In the 1960s Glasgow Corporation decided that a new airport for the city was required. The original site of Glasgow's main airport was 3 km (1.9 mi) east of Abbotsinch, in what is now the Dean Park area of Renfrew. The original Art Deco terminal building of Renfrew Airport has not survived. The site is now occupied by a Tesco supermarket and the M8 motorway; this straight and level section of motorway occupies the site of the main runway.[8]

Abbotsinch took over from Renfrew airport on 2 May 1966.[7][8] The UK Government had already committed millions into rebuilding Prestwick Airport fit for the "jet age". Nevertheless, the plan went forward and the new airport, designed by Basil Spence and built at a cost of £4.2 million, was completed in 1966, with British European Airways beginning services using De Havilland Comet aircraft. The first commercial flight to arrive was a British European Airways flight from Edinburgh, landing at 8 am on 2 May 1966. The airport was officially opened on 27 June 1966 by Queen Elizabeth II. The political rows over Glasgow and Prestwick airports continued, with Prestwick enjoying a monopoly over transatlantic traffic, while Glasgow Airport was only allowed to handle UK and intra-European traffic.

In 1975 the British Airports Authority (BAA) took ownership of Glasgow Airport. When BAA was privatised in the late 1980s, as BAA plc, it consolidated its airport portfolio and sold Prestwick airport. The restrictions on Glasgow Airport were lifted and the transatlantic operators immediately moved from Prestwick, Glasgow Airport being renamed Glasgow International Airport. BAA embarked on a massive redevelopment plan for Glasgow International Airport in 1989.

An extended terminal building was created by building the new structure so that the original Basil Spence building is actually inside it. The original concrete arches which once looked onto Caledonia Road now form the facade of the check-in area. Glasgow International Airport now has 38 gates, bringing its capacity up to nine million passengers per year. In 2003, BAA completed redevelopment work on a satellite building (called "T2", formerly the St. Andrews Building), in order to provide a dedicated check-in facility for low cost airlines, principally EasyJet and Thomas Cook Airlines.

Walkway between the two terminal buildings

By 1996, Glasgow Airport was handling 5.47 million passengers per annum, placing it fourth in the UK.


A pair of EasyJet Boeing 737-700 series aircraft at Glasgow International Airport
A Loganair, operating as a franchise of British Airways, SAAB 340B, at the airport

The terminal has three piers: West (International), Central (Domestic) and East (Low-cost & Ireland/Northern Ireland).

The Central Pier, which was part of the original 1966 building, is now used for domestic destinations. British Airways is based in the 1971 extension to the end of the pier, with Heathrow and Gatwick shuttles making up most of its traffic. There are two BA Executive Club lounges; one at Gate 18 and the second (taken over from KLM UK when this airline withdrew from the route to London-Stansted) by Gate 16. BMI and Flybe also use the Central Pier.

The East Pier, constructed in the mid 1970s, was originally used for international flights but in recent years has been redeveloped for use by EasyJet and Loganair as well as some charters. All flights to Ireland and Northern Ireland also use this pier. None of the stands on this pier are provided with airbridges. Stands 6 and 7 at the end of the East Pier are capable of receiving wide-body jets and occasionally passengers on international flights are bussed to/from the West (International) Pier to use aircraft parked there. The major users of this pier are Aer Lingus, Loganair and EasyJet.

A Monarch Airlines A330 at Glasgow International
tail fin's at the international pier

The West Pier, built as part of the 1989 extension project, is the principal international and long haul departure point. Stands 29 and 30 are capable of handling Boeing 747 aircraft. The largest aircraft currently regularly using the airport are the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER which uses Stand 30, and recently the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400. In early 2006 a redevelopment of the International Departure Lounge took place including the provision of a new business/premium lounge.

Work commenced in late 2007,[9] on Skyhub (located between the Main Terminal and Terminal 2)[10] which will include a new purpose built security search area, replacing the existing three security areas – through which all departing passengers will pass – and new bars, shops and restaurants. The new facility opened in late 2008, however one of the negative effects of Skyhub is that more than half of the former landside shopping and restaurant area is now airside. It has also meant that the formerly public areas of the terminal which afforded a view of the apron and airfield are now only reachable after passing through security.

Further growth is hampered by the airport's location, which is constrained by the M8 motorway to the south, the town of Renfrew to the east and the River Clyde to the north. At present the towns of Clydebank, Bearsden and Linwood all sit directly underneath the approach paths into the airport, meaning that further increases in traffic may be politically sensitive. Glasgow International also faces stiff competition from its old adversary at Prestwick, which has reinvented itself as a low-cost hub for budget airlines and which has a direct rail link to Central Glasgow. However, the Scottish Executive announced in 2002 that a rail link from Glasgow Central station would be built to Glasgow International Airport. The rail link known as Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) was expected to be completed in 2012 with the first trains running early 2013 providing four trains an hour will run to Glasgow Central. In 2009 it was announced that the plan had been cancelled.

Boeing 757-200 at Glasgow International Airport

Currently, the airport is easily accessed by road due to the adjoining M8 motorway and is served by a frequent and dedicated express bus (the "Glasgow Flyer") from the city centre, although this can suffer due to congestion in the centre of Glasgow during peak periods. The service is run by Arriva under contract to BAA.

The airport is home to the Scottish regional airline Loganair, currently a Flybe franchise operator, who have hangar facilities as well as their head office located on site. British Airways itself has a maintenance hangar at the airport, capable of carrying out overhaul work on Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft, as well as a cargo facility. Glasgow was one of two main bases for Flyglobespan though this carrier did not have major facilities on the airfield.

The Royal Air Force also has a unit based within the airport - The Universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde Air Squadron - to provide flying training to university students who plan to join the RAF.

Future plans

In 2005 BAA published a consultation paper[11] for the future development of the airport. The consultation paper included proposals for a second runway parallel to and to the north-west of the existing runway 05/23; redevelopment and enlargement of the East (Low-cost) pier to connect directly with Terminal 2; and an additional International Pier to the west of the existing International Pier. There were plans for a new rail terminal, joined to the airport's passenger terminal and multi-storey car park. On 29 November 2006 the Scottish Parliament gave the go-ahead for the new railway station as part of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link to Glasgow Central station, originally due for completion in 2011. However on 17 September 2009, due to escalating costs, the project was cancelled by the Scottish Government.[12]

BAA's plans, which are expected to cost some £290 million over the next 25 years, come in response to a forecasted trebling of annual passenger numbers passing through the airport by 2030. The current figure of 8.8 million passengers passing through the airport is expected to rise to more than 24 million by 2030.

Airlines and destinations



Airlines Destinations
Aer Arann Donegal [begins 28 March]
Aer Lingus Dublin
Aer Lingus Regional operated by Aer Arann Cork [begins 28 March], Dublin [begins 28 March]
Air Malta Malta
Air Southwest Newquay, Plymouth
Air Transat Toronto-Pearson
BMI London-Heathrow
BMI Regional Copenhagen, Leeds/Bradford
Bmibaby Birmingham, East Midlands
British Airways London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow
British Airways operated by BA CityFlyer London-City
Continental Airlines Newark
EasyJet Alicante, Belfast-International, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bristol, Faro [seasonal], Geneva [seasonal], Ibiza [seasonal], London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted, Málaga, Palma de Mallorca [seasonal], Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Emirates Dubai
Flybe Belfast-City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, Guernsey, Jersey [seasonal], La Rochelle [seasonal], Manchester, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Southampton
Flybe operated by Loganair Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Islay, Isle of Man, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík
KLM Amsterdam
KLM operated by KLM Cityhopper Amsterdam
Pakistan International Airlines Lahore
US Airways Philadelphia [seasonal]
Virgin Atlantic Airways Orlando [seasonal]


Airlines Destinations
Air Europa Arrecife, Tenerife-South
BH Air Burgas [seasonal], Varna [seasonal]
BA CityFlyer Barcelona [seasonal], Faro [seasonal], Malaga [seasonal], Palma [seasonal]
BMI Arrecife, Dalaman, Heraklion, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Palma, Paphos, Salzburg, Tenerife-South, Venice-Marco Polo [seasonal; begins 22 May]
Freebird Airlines Dalaman
Iberworld Ibiza, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Monarch Airlines Alicante, Orlando-Sanford
Nouvelair Monastir
Pegasus Airlines Dalaman [seasonal]
Spanair Barcelona, Palma [seasonal]
SunExpress Antalya
Thomas Cook Airlines Alicante, Antalya, Arrecife, Banjul, Bodrum, Burgas, Calgary, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Corfu, Dalaman, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Grenoble, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kos, Larnaca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Vegas, Mahón, Málaga, Malta, Monastir, Orlando-Sanford, Palma, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Reus, Rhodes, Rovaniemi, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver, Zakynthos
Thomson Airways Alicante, Antalya, Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Corfu , Dalaman, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Geneva, Heraklion, Ibiza, Lanzarote, Larnaca, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Málaga, Minorca, Monastir, Naples, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, Reus, Rhode, Salzburg, Sharm el-Sheikh, Tenerife-South, Zakynthos
Viking Airlines Corfu [seasonal], Dalaman [seasonal], Faro [seasonal], Fuerteventura [seasonal], Heraklion [seasonal], Lanzarote [seasonal], Las Palmas [seasonal], Malaga [seasonal], Palma [seasonal], Paphos [seasonal], Rhodes [seasonal], Tenerife-South [seasonal], Zante [seasonal]

2008 traffic statistics

Busiest International Routes out of Glasgow International Airport (2008)[13]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % Change
1 Amsterdam Airport Schiphol 314,759 8
2 Tenerife South Airport 296,142 1
3 Palma de Mallorca Airport 269,008 1
4 Alicante Airport 251,416 11
5 Dubai International Airport 240,677 4
6 Málaga Airport 200,532 10
7 Dublin Airport 167,675 1
8 Faro Airport 147,546 8
9 Lanzarote Airport 136,560 8
10 Dalaman Airport 120,184 9
11 Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport 118,879 584
12 Orlando Sanford International Airport 114,538 16
13 Gran Canaria Airport 112,071 12
14 Newark Liberty International Airport 110,960 20
15 Berlin Schönefeld Airport 91,064 1

Accidents and incidents

  • On 3 September 1999, a Cessna 404 carrying nine Airtours staff from Glasgow to Aberdeen on a transfer flight, crashed minutes after take off near the town of Linwood, Renfrewshire. Eight people were killed and three seriously injured. No one on the ground was hurt. A fatal accident inquiry into the accident later found that the aircraft developed an engine malfunction during take off. Although the captain decided to return to the airfield, he mistakenly identified the working engine as the faulty one and shut it down, causing the aircraft to crash.

Ground transport

The airport is currently linked to Glasgow City Centre by Glasgow Flyer bus service 500. This is run by Arriva Scotland West under contract to BAA. Started in 2007, the service runs 24 hours a day, direct via the M8 motorway. Previously, Arriva and Fairline Coaches ran this service as route 905, under contract to Scottish Citylink, and this ended following the introduction of the Flyer. Fairline later introduced a new Glasgow Airport Link service using the old route 905 number, but this has since been dropped and replaced by First Bus on the 747 route

Bus service

Bus Stop 1
Bus Stop 2
Bus Stop 3



  • Smith, David J (1983). Action Stations. Volume 7: Military airfields of Scotland, the North-East and Northern Ireland. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-563-0.

External links


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