Liverpool John Lennon Airport is an airport serving the English city of Liverpool and North West England. Formerly known as Speke Airport and RAF Speke, the airport is located adjacent to the estuary of the River Mersey some 7.5 miles (12 km) south-east of the centre of Liverpool.
In recent years it has been one of Europe's fastest growing airports, having increased its annual passenger numbers from 875,000 in 1998 to 5.47 million in 2007. The growth rate was 10.2% in 2007. 500,000 passengers were handled in one month, for the first time, during May 2007. Per CAA UK airport statistics, growth has now tapered off with passengers handled in the twelve months to July 2008 rising by 2.5% (UK average - 1.7%).
Liverpool Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P735) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers and for flying instruction.
Built in part of the grounds of Speke Hall, Speke Airport, as the airport was originally known, started scheduled flights in 1930 with a service by Imperial Airways via Barton Airport, Manchester, to Croydon Airport, London. However, it was not "officially" opened until the summer of 1933. By the late 1930s, air traffic from Liverpool was beginning to take off with increasing demand for Irish Sea crossings, and a distinctive passenger terminal, control tower and two large aircraft hangars were built.
During World War II, the airport was taken over by the Royal Air Force and known as RAF Speke. Rootes built many bombers in a shadow factory here, including Bristol Blenheims and 1,070 Handley Page Halifaxes. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation assembled many types including Hudsons and Mustangs, that had been shipped from the United States to Liverpool Docks. The airport was also home to the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit.
Speke was witness to what is thought to be the fastest air to air combat "kill" in the Battle of Britain and possibly of all time. Squadron Leader Denys Gillam took off in his Hawker Hurricane from Speke to be confronted by a Junkers 88 passing across him. As his undercarriage was still retracting he shot the Junkers down. The moment has been caught in a painting by Robert Taylor called "Fastest Victory".
Civil airline operations resumed on a normal basis after VE-day and passengers increased from 50,000 in 1945 to 75,000 in 1948, remaining ahead of Manchester. Ownership by the Ministry of Aviation proved to be a drag on the airport's progress thereafter and Manchester gained the lead from 1949, resulting in Liverpool's loss of the only ground-controlled radar approach unit available to northwest airports, further hampering operation.
The city took over control of the airport on 1 January 1961 and prepared development plans. In 1966, a new runway was opened on a new site to the south-east of the existing airfield. It enabled the airport to be open for business around the clock and is in use to this day. Control of the airport transferred to Merseyside County Council from Liverpool Corporation in the mid 1970s and then, ten years later, to the five Merseyside councils following the abolition of Merseyside County Council. A new modern passenger terminal, adjacent to the runway on the southern airfield site, opened in 1986, and this was followed by the closure of the original 1930s building.
The original terminal building from the 1930s, famously seen on early television footage with its terraces packed with Beatles fans, was left derelict for over a decade after being replaced in 1986. However it has recently been renovated and adapted to become the Crowne Plaza Liverpool John Lennon Airport Hotel, preserving its Grade II listed art deco style. Some segments of the aprons and taxiways adjacent to the terminal remain, used primarily for car parking, but also home to the bodyshell of a retired passenger airliner. Much of the rest of the site is allocated for redevelopment as of 2008.
In 1990 ownership of the airport was privatised, with British Aerospace taking a 76% shareholding in the new company. Subsequently the airport has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Peel Holdings Ltd. In 2000, work on a £42.5 million modern passenger terminal began, tripling its size and passenger capacity, and this development was completed in 2002. There have since been further extensions. The airport's strategy is to cater largely for 'low cost' operators, and consequently the layout of the terminal and gates requires passengers to walk unprotected from the weather to and from passenger aircraft. Destinations served are located throughout Europe, the 2007 scheduled services to USA and Canada having been withdrawn.
2002 saw the airport being renamed in honour of John Lennon, a founding member of the well-known Liverpudlian band The Beatles, twenty-two years after Lennon's death. A tall bronze statue of the local icon stands overlooking the check-in hall. On the roof is painted the airport's motto, a line from Lennon's song "Imagine": "Above us, only sky".
In 2005 the Yellow Submarine, a large-scale work of art, was installed on a traffic island at the entrance to the airport.
2007 saw the start of construction of a new multi-storey car park and 5 star hotel with an overhead bridge to the main terminal.
The airport provides long stay parking facilities with a new 769 space multi-storey car park due to open in October 2008.
The airport does not have its own railway station. The nearest station is at Liverpool South Parkway, from which there are regular bus shuttle services to the airport. The station provides frequent rail services to central Liverpool, Crosby, Hunts Cross and Southport, on the suburban Merseyrail network, together with longer distance direct links to Manchester and Birmingham on the National Rail network.
There are also regular bus services linking the airport with the surrounding urban areas, including a 24-hour link between the airport and the city centre provided by the 86A and N86. Other services include 80A, 81A, 82A, and 89 and shuttle services to Liverpool (500) and Manchester via the M62 (700). Taxi services are also provided at the airport.
Thales wins Liverpool CAT III contract.(Product & Service: Announcements)(Category III)(Liverpool John Lennon Airport)(Brief article)
Oct 01, 2008; Thales UK has won a contract to supply and install a Cat III ILS and Distance Measuring Equipment (DME) to Liverpool John Lennon...