Cardiff International Unofficial Airport Guide


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Cardiff Airport Guide

Cardiff International Airport History


The history of Cardiff International Airport extends back 60 years to the early 1940’s when the Air Ministry requisitioned land in the rural Vale of Glamorgan to set up a wartime satellite aerodrome and training base for RAF Spitfire pilots. Construction work commenced in 1941, and the airfield officially began life on 7 April 1942 when it was taken over by No 53 Operational Training Unit. The commercial potential of the runway was recognised in the early 1950’s with Aer Lingus starting a service to Dublin in 1952. A new Terminal Building followed, along with flights to France, Belfast and Cork. An escalation in holiday charter business resulted in passenger throughput exceeding 100,000 in 1962.

Cardiff airport is now owned by TBI plc, a subsidiary of abertis airports. See official Cardiff Airport website

The airport is the main maintenance base for British Airways and home to a variety of aerospace-oriented firms, and therefore a major contributor to the economic development of the region.

Cardiff airport attracts around two million passengers a year, according to the UK Civil Aviation Authority and airport statistics.

In October 2004, the airport was named as one of the top ten best airports in the world, by the Telegraph Travel Awards


In 1965, control of the Airport was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to Glamorgan County Council. With the first transatlantic flight in 1971, further investment led to the development of the current Terminal Building and Control Tower. The main runway was doubled in length to 7,000 ft, which enabled the airport to accommodate wide bodied aircraft.

Local government reorganisation in the 1970’s resulted in the transfer of the Airport's ownership to the three County Councils of South, Mid and West Glamorgan, the successors of the former Glamorgan County Council. The growth in the popularity of charter traffic to the Mediterranean saw passenger levels soar to 250,000 in the early 1980’s. New links were also established between Cardiff and Canada.

1986 saw a further extension of 750 ft to the runway, costing in the region of £1 million, thus attracting more business to the Airport in the form of new generation jet aircraft. Development of transatlantic links were made with charter flights to Florida, in addition to the previously established links with Canada. The runway extension, enabling the Airport to handle 747 jumbo jets, was instrumental in attracting the British Airways Maintenance facility to Cardiff International Airport. The maintenance hangar is one of the largest in the world and provides heavy airframe and engineering maintenance for the British Airways fleet and third party carriers.

The early 1990’s saw a significant boost to the Airport’s scheduled services when Manx Airlines established their European Air Route Hub at Cardiff, offering daily services to key business destinations within Europe and the UK. Consequently scheduled passenger levels exceeded 100,000 for the first time in a single year.

more on Cardiff Airport or see Caridff Airport Official site