Our history

The history of East Midlands Airport and aviation in the East Midlands region

Air traffic control tower at East Midlands Airport

1963: East Midlands Airport Joint Committee, which was formed to find a site to replace Burnaston Aerodrome, buys Castle Donington Airfield, a former RAF base decommissioned in 1946, is bought for the princely sum of £37,500.

1964: Planning permission to build a new £1.37 million airport on the site is approved and work begins.

1965: On April 2, East Midlands Airport is officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh. Derby Airways, which had operated at Burnaston, moves to the new airport. The company would become British Midland. The airline still operates at East Midlands to this day in the form of FlyBMI.

1970: The runway is extended by 7,480ft to allow the airport to receive larger aircraft.

1973: A second terminal, Cargo Terminal 2, opens allowing the airport to increase its freight operations.

1979: Royal Mail comes to East Midlands Airport.

1984: The number of people to use the airport passes the one million mark. ELAN (now DHL) starts its freight operations at the airport. Today, DHL has its UK air operations at East Midlands.

1986: Princess Anne opens a £3 million passenger terminal extension.

1993: The airport is privatised and bought by the National Express Group.

1996: A new departures building opens as part of a £14.5 million project. The airport welcomes its 25 millionth passenger.

1997: Cargo Terminal 4 opens.

2000: DHL opens its hub at ‘Cargo West’. The runway is extended again, taking its length to 2,893 metres.

2001: East Midlands Airport becomes part of the Manchester Airports Group. The new Aeropark aviation museum opens its gates.

2003: Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, opens a new check-in hall extension.

2004: Low cost airline Ryanair begin operations at the airport. Self-service check-in is launched.

2005: The airport serves its 50 millionth passenger in 40 years.

2006: The airport publishes its Master Plan, outlining plans for its future growth up to 2030 and commits to make its ground operations carbon neutral by 2012.

2007: The airport applies for permission to install large wind turbines on site to generate 10% of its electricity, launches a green extension to the terminal, as well as being awarded five top travel awards.

2008: Work is complete on the £10million redevelopment programme; including a new shopping experience, a locally supplied restaurant and the airport reaches a record half a million passengers.

2009: In a world first, the airport launched a trial to power a passenger bus on Liquid bio-methane, easyJet announced their departure, which was quickly replaced by the announcement that Jet2.com would join the Donington based airport.

2010: The brand new dedicated education centre, ‘The Aerozone’ opened, the airport launched a UK a first with a 26 hectare willow farm, construction of a four star hotel began on site and the auto service centre was officially opened.

2011: The first coppicing of the airport’s willow farm takes place, the first of four wind turbines arrive on site, EMA takes part in the first National Climate Week and the airport hotel’s structure is complete.

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