Brexit is coming and with it comes… something. It’s really hard to say anything too specific, since there’s really no plan for it. However, we do know that air travel is gonna be a lot more difficult. So why not look at some of the smallest – and largest – of UK’s airports that you may or may not be visiting soon?
Let’s start with the Kingdom’s Wee Strips For The Purposes Of Landing Heavier-Than-Air Aeronautics Contraptions.
5. Durham Tees Valley Airport
Located way up North near Darlington, the biggest city in County Durham, this used to be an RAF field. However, it was transformed into a real(ly small) airport in the 1950s. Today, Durham Tees Valley Airport claims an international status, as it has daily flights to Amsterdam. It also connects to Humbersite airport and Aberdeen. Air ambulance services and defense contractors also make use of the site, albeit not for exciting fighter jet purposes.
4. Stornoway Airport
Do you know what’s cooler than north England? North Scotland! In fact, Stornoway Airport is located in Stornoway, on the Outer Hebrides (islands to the North-West of Scotland). It’s such a wee thing that only one airline – Loganair – operates there. It used to be an RAF field and a NATO forward staging airport (which probably meant that it was getting a nuke thrown at it in the event of World War III), but it currently only accepts Loganair, British Mail, and private aircraft.
3. St Mary’s Airport, Isles of Scilly
It might be the third smallest airport in the UK, but it has two names. St. Mary’s/Isles of Scilly Airport serves, well, the 2300 people that call the 5 inhabited islands off the coast of Cornwall their home. Flights by Isles of Scilly Skybus and Island Helicopters connect the whole lot to the mainland. The latter is the fanciest way to get on the island without chartering your own plane, as the flights happen 8 times a day, last but 15 minutes and would cost you 230 of Queen’s Own Pounds. Regular plane service connects this airport (which also serves as the administrative base for Isles of Scilly Fire and Rescue Service) to Land’s End and Newquay, as well as offering seasonal flights to Exeter.
2. Alderney airport
Alderney is one of the Channel Islands and the airport there served as a staging point during Norman invasions. Ok, for real now: built in 1935, it was the first airport in the islands. It gained a cool new terminal in 1968 (50 years later, it’s in need of repair). Currently, Aurigny, the airline of the Bailiwick of Guernsey, connects the airport to Guernsey and Southampton.
1. Land’s End Airport
The fittingly named Land’s End Airport is actually set on mainland England. You may know it from reading the #3 point about St. Mary’s Airport. As it happens, this teeny-tiny airport was established in 1935 to serve the Isles of Scilly. Isle of Scilly Skybus and Island Helicopters connect this airport to St. Mary’s and nowhere else. You can also get observation tours of the area!
And now to the five biggest airports in the UK!
5. London Luton
Luton Airport was established in 1938. During World War II, it was a fighter base. After the conflict, it reverted back to civilian use, which it continues to this day. This airport is well known to many an Eastern European budget airline aficionado, as it’s a favorite destination of Wizz Air and easyJet, as well as Ryanair and airlines of similar repute. It has a but a single runway and a sole terminal building that is two-stories high and often remodeled.
4. London Stansted Airport
Ryanair might have but a toehold in London Luton, but in Stansted, it’s the king of the show, at least by destinations served. About 25 million passengers pass through its halls yearly. Surprisingly enough, while Stansted has the most scheduled European destinations of any airport in the UK, Dublin is the most popular route, followed by Edinburgh. Many others fly to southernly holiday destinations. Its single runway pulls a lot of weight, it seems!
3. Manchester Airport
Manchester Airport is the only one of the big five to not be in London! Like many on this list, it was established in 1938 and served as an RAF base during World War II. Currently, is the only other airport other than Heathrow to operate two runways over 2,999 m (3,280 yds) in length! It handles around 28 million passengers a year (take that, Stansted!) and it’s projected that the two runways could enable it to reach 50 million. However, facilities are not ready for that yet and a major terminal renovation is underway. When finished, it will allow the airport to handle 35 million passengers.
2. Gatwick Airport
Back to London! Gatwick is the second biggest (and busiest) airport in the UK. It’s the 8th busiest airport in Europe and, up to 2017, its single runway was the busiest in the world. Currently, the runway at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai holds that honor. Gatwick handled 46 million people last year – take that, Manchester and your two runways – which is quite the load! The most popular destination for the fliers was Barcelona… followed, again, by Dublin. The airport had an embarrassing run-in with drones last year.
1. London Heathrow
London Heathrow is the biggest airport in the UK. International traffic makes it the second busiest airport in the world (and total traffic makes it 7th) yet it remains the busiest in Europe. It handled 80 million flyers last year! Originally, it operated six runways, but the growing requirements for length means that only two remain, the rest being incorporated into the airport infrastructure.
And while you’d be thrilled to spend some time in any of these airports, you probably don’t want to overstay your welcome. And you wouldn’t, unless you experienced flight disruptions! That’s right, flight delays, cancellations, and overbooking can all leave you stranded at an airport gracing this list. If that happens, claim flight disruption compensation via Skycop and gain compensation of up to €600!
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