Birmingham Airport Carries 200 Million Passengers Since Opening

As Birmingham Airport approaches its 75th birthday, it has revealed that more than two hundred million passengers have travelled through its doors since records began.

The Midlands airport was officially opened on a rainy Saturday on the 8th July 1939 by HRH The Duchess of Kent, but just two months later the Second World War broke out and the Air Ministry requisitioned the airport so all civil flying was stopped.

On Monday 8th July 1946, exactly seven years after the airport’s official opening, the facility was reopened for civil flying and over the next seven and a half decades more than 200 million people have used the airport.


Originally operating from the ‘Elmdon’ terminal, which still stands proud on the western side of the airfield, the rapid growth in air travel in the 70s meant that a new terminal building was needed, and on the 30th May 1984 a new terminal was opened by HRH The Queen.

Although now twice the size, this remains the site for Birmingham Airport’s operation, which today sees more than nine million passengers use the facility each year.

Commenting on the milestone and the launch of a commemorative logo to use throughout the year, Paul Kehoe, Chief Executive of the Airport, said: 

“Birmingham Airport has played an important role in the success of the region for 75 years. It was built with the aim of creating jobs and stimulating industry; and that it has certainly done.

“Back in the early years, only the privileged could enjoy the luxury of flying but as it became more accessible to the masses, more and more people took to the skies from Birmingham to experience the wonder of air travel and seek new adventures overseas.

“Today, Birmingham Airport continues to bring people together, delivers goods to global destinations and connects industry with opportunities around the world - reliably, safely and speedily.” 

This spring, the airport opened its extended runway which allows airlines to fly further than ever before from Birmingham, including the Far East, The Americas and South Africa. The last time the runway was extended was back in 1966 by 300ft, which attracted new tour operators using jet flights allowing Birmingham Airport to thrive.

Other key milestones over the last 75 years have included: 

1949 The first post war scheduled service took off from Birmingham to Paris, operated by a BEA Dakota.

1955 A record 110,000 passengers used the airport during this year.

1959 800ft runway extension opened and name changed from Elmdon to Birmingham Airport.

1960 New ‘International Building’ opened at Elmdon to cope with increased passenger numbers.

1966 A further 300ft extension to the runway was built.

1978 The magic one million passenger mark was reached.

1980 Concorde flew from Birmingham for the first time, to Paris.

1984 New airport opened by HRH The Queen and operations moved to the new site.

1989 3.5 million passengers travelled through the new airport.

1991 British Airways’ Eurohub opened.

1998 President Clinton and other world leaders land at Birmingham Airport for the G8 Summit.

2000 HRH The Queen opens the new Millennium Link terminal extension.

2002 Passenger numbers reach 8m.

2003 The new Air Rail link people mover system opens, connecting the airport with Birmingham International station.

2009 New £45m International Pier opened.

2014 400m runway extension operational.

The commemorative logo is in-keeping with the airport’s corporate brand and symbolises the 75 years, from 1939 to 2014, using aircraft icons to signify global flight. It will be used throughout the year by the airport.

Find out more about Birmingham Airport by visiting our History of the Airport page. 

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