Glasgow Airport

For similarly named airports, see Glasgow Airport (disambiguation).
Glasgow Airport
Port-adhair Eadar-nàiseanta Ghlaschu
Airport type Public
Owner AGS Airports
Operator Glasgow Airport Limited
Location Paisley, Renfrewshire
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

Location of airport in Renfrewshire

Direction Length Surface
m ft
05/23 2,665 8,743 Grooved Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 8,714,307
Passenger change 14–15 Increase12.9%
Aircraft movements 90,870
Movements change 14–15 Increase8.1%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Location from Glasgow Airport[3]

Glasgow Airport, also unofficially Glasgow International Airport (IATA: GLA[4], ICAO: EGPF), formerly 'Abbotsinch Airport', is an international airport in Scotland, located 6 nautical miles (11 km; 6.9 mi) west[1] of Glasgow city centre. In 2015 the airport handled over 8.7 million passengers, a 12.9% annual increase, making it the second busiest in Scotland, after Edinburgh Airport, and the eighth busiest airport in the United Kingdom. It is the primary airport serving the west of Scotland and is the principal transatlantic and direct long-haul entry airport into Scotland.

The airport is owned and operated by AGS Airports which also owns and operates Aberdeen and Southampton Airports. It was previously owned and operated by Heathrow Airport Holdings (formerly known as BAA).[5] The airport's largest tenants are British Airways and Loganair (currently franchising using Flybe), the latter using it as a hub. Other major airlines using GLA as a base include Flybe, EasyJet, Jet2, Ryanair, Thomas Cook Airlines and Thomson Airways.

Glasgow Airport was first opened in 1966 and originally flights only operated to other places in the United Kingdom and Europe. The British Airports Authority (BAA) took control of the airport in 1975 and when BAA was privatised in the 1980s, Glasgow Airport began to offer flights to other places around the world, flights which previously used Glasgow Prestwick Airport, which was subsequently relegated as the city's secondary airport catering for low cost airlines, freight and charter operators.


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.[6] The RAF Station HQ, however, was not formed until 1 July 1936 when 6 Auxiliary Group, Bomber Command, arrived.[6] 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.[6] 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 ship names and Abbotsinch's was known as HMS Sanderling since June 1940.[6] 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.[6] 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 runway.[7]

Abbotsinch took over from Renfrew airport on 2 May 1966.[6][7] 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.

1970s to 1990s

In 1975, the 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 a pre-fabricated metal structure around the front of the original Basil Spence building, hence screening much of its distinctive Brutalist style architecture from view, with the void between the two structures joined by a glass atrium and walkway. Spence's original concrete facade which once looked onto Caledonia Road now fronts the check-in desks. The original building can be seen more clearly from the rear, with the mock barrel vaulted roof visible when airside.

A dedicated international departure lounge and pier was added at the western side of the building, leaving the facility with a total of 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), to provide a dedicated check-in facility for low cost airlines, principally Aer Lingus, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Thomas Cook Airlines.

By 1996, Glasgow was handling over 5.5 million passengers per annum, making it the fourth largest airport in the UK.[8]


Apron view
Tail fins at the international pier

The airport serves a variety of destinations throughout Europe, North America and the Middle East. Jet2, Ryanair, easyJet, Thomas Cook Airlines, Thomson Airways and Loganair have a base at the airport. The largest aircraft to regularly operate at the airport are the Boeing 777-300ER and the Boeing 747-400. On 10 April 2014 Emirates operated an Airbus A380 to Glasgow to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Glasgow-Dubai route, the first time an A380 had visited a Scottish airport.[9] Currently, the airport is not certified for regular A380 operations.

The terminal consists of three piers; the West Pier, Central Pier and East Pier.

The West Pier, commonly known as the International Pier, was built as part of the 1989 extension project and is the principal international and long haul departure point. The majority of stands on this pier are equipped with airbridges.

The Central Pier was part of the original 1966 building. The British Airways gates are located in the 1971 extension at the end of the pier, with Heathrow and Gatwick shuttles making up most of its traffic as well as BA CityFlyer flights to London City. The British Airways lounge is located on this pier, across from gate 15. Other users of the Central Pier are Flybe and Aer Lingus. Most of the stands on this pier are equipped with airbridges.

The East Pier, constructed in the mid-1970s, was originally used for international flights but in recent years has been re-developed for use by low-cost airlines. None of the stands on this pier are equipped with airbridges. The main users of this pier are Ryanair, EasyJet, Jet2 and Loganair. In 2015 a £3,000,000 extension was added to the pier, creating space for 750,000 extra passengers a year.

In late 2007,[10] work commenced on Skyhub (located between the Main Terminal and Terminal 2)[11] which created a single, purpose built security screening area in place of the previous individual facilities for each of the three piers, the other side effect being an enlarged duty-free shopping area created by taking most of the previous landside shopping and restaurant facilities airside. This new arrangement also frees up space in the departure lounges through the removal of the separate duty-free shops in the West and Central Piers. This however meant that the former public viewing areas of the apron are now airside, making the airport inaccessible to aviation enthusiasts and spectators.

Future 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 areas of Drumchapel, Clydebank, Bearsden, Foxbar, Faifley and Linwood all sit directly underneath the approach paths into the airport, meaning that further increases in traffic may be politically sensitive. The airport is challenged by Edinburgh Airport, which now serves a wider range of European destinations, growing to overtake Glasgow as Scotland's busiest airport, although Glasgow retains the edge on transatlantic and long haul routes.

The Scottish Executive announced in 2002 that a rail line – known as the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (GARL) – would be built from Glasgow Central station to Glasgow Airport. The rail link was to be completed by 2012 with the first trains running early in 2013. In 2009, however, it was announced by the Scottish Government that the plan had been cancelled.[12]

Currently, the airport is easily accessible by road due with direct access to the adjoining M8 motorway. It is also served by a frequent bus service, the Glasgow Airport Express, which operates services to city centre. The service is run by First Glasgow and all buses feature leather seats, USB charging ports and free WiFi.

The airport is home to the Scottish regional airline Loganair, currently a Flybe franchise operator, who have their head office located on site.[13] British Airways has a maintenance hangar at the airport, capable of carrying out overhaul work on Airbus A320, as well as a cargo facility.

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.

In 2007, Glasgow became the second busiest airport in Scotland as passenger numbers were surpassed by those at Edinburgh Airport.

Icelandair temporarily moved its base of operations from Keflavík International Airport to Glasgow due to the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull.

In July 2014, the Emirates opened a dedicated lounge at the airport[14] for First and Business class passengers. It is located at the top of the West Pier.

In October 2014, Heathrow Airport Holdings reached an agreement to sell the airport, together with Southampton and Aberdeen, to a consortium of Ferrovial and Macquarie Group for £1 billion.[15]


In 2005 BAA published a consultation paper[16] for the 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.[17]

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 7.7 million passengers passing through the airport is expected to rise to more than 24 million by 2030.

Plans are confirmed to build a tram-rail link that will link the city centre to the airport with plans already underway to begin construction of the project.[18]

Airlines and destinations


Aer Lingus Regional
operated by Stobart Air
Cork, Donegal, Dublin M
Air Canada Rouge Seasonal: Toronto-Pearson M
Air France
operated by HOP!
Paris-Charles de Gaulle M
Air Transat Toronto-Pearson
Seasonal: Vancouver
American Airlines Seasonal: Philadelphia M
Austrian Airlines Seasonal charter: Vienna M
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas M
Blue Air Bucharest 2
British Airways London-Gatwick, London-Heathrow M
British Airways
operated by BA Cityflyer
Seasonal charter: Alicante, Barcelona, Faro, Genoa, Ibiza, Malaga, Menorca, Nice, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Salzburg, Venice, Verona
operated by Van Air Europe
Isle of Man M
Delta Air Lines Seasonal: New York-JFK (begins 26 May 2017)[19] M
easyJet Alicante, Amsterdam, Belfast-International, Berlin-Schönefeld, Bristol, Faro, London-Gatwick, London-Luton, London-Stansted, Málaga, Milan-Malpensa, Paris-Charles de Gaulle
Seasonal: Bordeaux, Geneva, Jersey, Kos, Palma de Mallorca, Split
Emirates Dubai-International M
Eurowings Düsseldorf M
Flybe Belfast-City, Birmingham, Cardiff, Exeter, East Midlands, Southampton
Seasonal: Jersey, Newquay
operated by Loganair
Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Leeds/Bradford, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Manchester, Sumburgh, Tiree (all end 31 August 2017)[20]
Seasonal: Bergen (begins 5 May 2017, ends 31 August 2017)[21]
Icelandair Reykjavík-Keflavík M Alicante, Barcelona, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Funchal, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Antalya, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik (begins 30 April 2017), Faro, Geneva (begins 22 December 2016),[22] Girona, Grenoble (begins 23 December 2016),[23] Malaga, Heraklion, Ibiza, Larnaca, Malta, Menorca, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague, Reus, Rhodes, Rome-Fiumicino, Zakynthos
KLM Amsterdam M
operated by KLM Cityhopper
Amsterdam M
Loganair Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Leeds/Bradford, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Manchester, Sumburgh, Tiree (all begin 1 September 2017)[24]
Seasonal: Bergen (begins 1 September 2017)[25]
operated by Air Dolomiti
Seasonal: Munich M
Ryanair Alicante, Berlin-Schönefeld, Charleroi, Derry, Dublin, Gran Canaria, London-Stansted, Lanzarote, Málaga, Riga, Sofia, Warsaw-Modlin, Wrocław
Seasonal: Bydgoszcz, Carcassonne, Chania, Lisbon (begins 26 March 2017),[26] Palanga (begins 26 March 2017),[26] Valencia (begins 27 March 2017),[26] Zadar (begins 30 March 2017)[26]
Small Planet AirlinesSeasonal charter: Ivalo M
Thomas Cook Airlines Antalya, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Alicante (resumes 31 March 2017), Almeria, Barbados, Bourgas, Cancún, Cayo Coco, Corfu, Dalaman, Enfidha (suspended), Heraklion, Ibiza, Larnaca, Las Vegas, Menorca, Orlando-International, Palma de Mallorca, Reus, Rhodes, Varadero, Zakynthos
Thomson Airways Alicante,[27] Enfidha, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Sal,[28] Tenerife-South
Seasonal: Barbados, Bodrum, Burgas, Cancún, Chambéry, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Faro, Geneva, Girona, Heraklion, Ibiza, Larnaca, Málaga, Montego Bay (begins 22 June 2017),[28] Mahón, Naples, Orlando-Sanford, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Rhodes, Salzburg, Turin, Verona
Thomson Airways
operated by ASL Airlines France
Seasonal charter: Ibiza, Palma de Mallorca M
United Airlines Newark M
Virgin Atlantic Seasonal: Orlando-International M
WestJet Seasonal: Halifax, Toronto-Pearson M
Wizz Air Bucharest, Budapest, Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin, Poznań, Warsaw-Chopin M


FedEx Feeder
operated by ASL Airlines Ireland
Newcastle upon Tyne, Paris-Charles De Gaulle
FedEx Feeder
operated by Swiftair


Annual traffic data

Passenger traffic at Glasgow Airport peaked in 2006 when over 8.8 million passengers passed through the airport. Numbers subsequently declined until 2010, with 6.5 million passengers that year, but have since increased to 8.7 million in 2015.[2]

Glasgow Airport Passenger Totals 1997–2014 (millions)
Updated: 5 April 2016[2]
Number of Passengers[note 1] Number of Movements[note 2] Freight
(tonnes)[note 1]
1997 6,117,006 98,204 10,574
1998 6,566,927 100,942 8,517
1999 6,813,955 101,608 8,972
2000 6,965,500 104,929 8,545
2001 7,292,327 110,408 5,928
2002 7,803,627 104,393 5,041
2003 8,129,713 105,597 4,927
2004 8,575,039 107,885 8,122
2005 8,792,915 110,581 8,733
2006 8,848,755 110,034 6,289
2007 8,795,653 108,305 4,276
2008 8,178,891 100,087 3,546
2009 7,225,021 85,281 2,334
2010 6,548,865 77,755 2,914
2011 6,880,217 78,111 2,430
2012 7,157,859 80,472 9,497
2013 7,363,764 79,520 11,837
2014 7,715,988 84,000 15,411
2015 8,714,307 90,870 13,193
Source: United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Busiest routes

Busiest domestic routes (2015)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % change
1 London Heathrow 907,873 Increase 4
2 London Gatwick 612,497 Decrease 1
3 London Stansted 533,327 Increase75
4 London Luton 215,052 Decrease 20
5 Bristol 267,162 Increase 9
6 Belfast International 266 275 Increase 10
7 Birmingham 226 704 Decrease 1
8 London City 238,413 Increase 15
9 Southampton 158 310 Decrease 8
10 Belfast City 155 157 Increase 9
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]
Busiest international routes (2015)
Rank Airport Passengers handled % change
1 Dublin 448,820 Increase 111
2 Dubai 429,602 Increase 1
3 Amsterdam 425,444 Increase 3
4 Tenerife-South 243,759 Decrease 2
5 Palma de Mallorca 214,190 Decrease 1
6 Alicante 190,522 Decrease 3
7 Málaga 165,154 Decrease 2
8 Dalaman 131,455 Increase 5
9 Arrecife de Lanzarote 119,395Decrease 3
10 Paris Charles de Gaulle 110,833 Increase 12
11 Newark 105,588 Increase 2
12 Toronto Pearson 96,959 Increase 54
13 Faro 96,754 Decrease 4
14 Berlin Schönefeld 88,061 Increase 23
15 Antalya 81,890 Increase 35
16 Ibiza 81,065 Increase 10
17 Orlando–International 80,669 Increase 11
18 Keflavik 74,772 Increase15
19 Gran Canaria 70,146 Increase 4
20 Fuerteventura 64,566 Increase 7
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Accidents and incidents

Ground transport

The airport is currently linked to Glasgow City Centre by Glasgow Shuttle bus service 500. This is run by First Glasgow under contract to Glasgow Airport. Started in 2011, the service runs 24 hours a day, direct via the M8 motorway. McGill's Bus Services service 757 links the airport with Paisley Gilmour Street railway station, Paisley town centre, Erskine & Clydebank. This bus accepts National Rail tickets between Glasgow Airport and any railway station.



  1. 1 2 Number of Passengers including domestic, international and transit counterparts.
  2. Number of Movements represents total aircraft takeoffs and landings during each year.


  1. 1 2 "Glasgow – EGPF". UK Integrated Aeronautical Information Package. National Air Traffic Services.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Aircraft and passenger traffic data from UK airports". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 25 March 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  3. "Contact us". Glasgow Airport. Retrieved 1 April 2014. Our address: Glasgow Airport Limited, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland, PA3 2SW
  4. "IATA Airport Search (GLA)". International Air Transport Association. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  5. "Who we are". Heathrow Airport Holdings. 2013. Retrieved 28 January 2013.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Smith, Abbotsinch
  7. 1 2 Smith, Renfrew
  8. "Terminal & Transit Passengers at UK Airports – 1996" (PDF). UK Civil Aviation Authority. 1996. Archived from the original (PDF) on 6 June 2011.
  9. BBC News. "A380 flight marks 10 years of Emirates at Glasgow". BBC News. Retrieved 18 March 2014.
  10. "Skyhub ready for take-off as construction phase begins" (Press release). Glasgow Airport. 29 October 2007. Archived from the original on 27 February 2008. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  11. "Glasgow Airport aiming sky high with £30m expansion" (Press release). Glasgow Airport. 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 27 October 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2007.
  12. "Ministers scrap airport rail plan". BBC News. 17 September 2009.
  13. "Statutory Information". Loganair. Retrieved 20 May 2009. Registered Office: St. Andrews Drive, Glasgow Airport PAISLEY Renfrewshire PA3 2TG
  15. "Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports sold in £1bn deal". BBC News. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
  16. "Glasgow Airport outline Master Plan – Draft for Consultation" (PDF). Glasgow Airport. July 2005. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 November 2006.
  18. "Delta doubles network to Scotland with new route between New York-JFK and Glasgow". Delta News Hub. DELTA AIR LINES, INC. Retrieved 7 June 2016.
  22. " Expands Grenoble Operations from Dec 2016". airlineroute. Retrieved 6 April 2016.
  25. 1 2 3 4 "Welcome to Ryanair". Ryanair.
  26. Thomson's website
  27. 1 2 "Glasgow Airport to begin direct flights to Jamaica". Evening Express. 21 April 2016. Retrieved 23 April 2016.


  • McCloskey, Keith. Glasgow's Airports: Renfrew and Abbotsinch. Stroud, Gloucestershire, UK: The History Press Ltd., 2009. ISBN 978-0-7524-5077-3.
  • Smith, David J. Action Stations, Volume 7: Military airfields of Scotland, the North-East and Northern Ireland. Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, UK: Patrick Stephens Ltd., 1983 ISBN 0-85059-563-0.

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