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Hurn Airport

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Hurn Airport

For the World War II use of this facility, see RAF Hurn.
Bournemouth Airport
Airport type Private
Owner/Operator Manchester Airports Group
Serves Bournemouth
Location Hurn, Dorset
Elevation AMSL 38 ft / 12 m
Coordinates 50°46′48″N 001°50′33″W / 50.78000°N 1.84250°W / 50.78000; -1.84250Coordinates: 50°46′48″N 001°50′33″W / 50.78000°N 1.84250°W / 50.78000; -1.84250

Location in Dorset
Direction Length Surface
m ft
08/26 2,271 7,451 Asphalt
Statistics (2012)
Passengers 689,913
Passenger change 11-12 Increase12.6%
Aircraft Movements 76,158
Movements change 11-12 Increase47.02%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[1]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Bournemouth Airport (IATA: BOHICAO: EGHH) (previously known as Hurn Airport and Bournemouth International Airport) is an airport located 3.5 NM (6.5 km; 4.0 mi)[1] north-northeast of Bournemouth, in southern England. Bournemouth Airport opened as RAF Hurn in 1941 and began commercial services in the late 1950s, with Palmair commencing flights to Majorca in October 1958.[3]

Subsequently Ryanair and Thomson Airways based aircraft at the airport, with scheduled flights now frequently serving Western Europe and the Mediterranean area, with charter and seasonal services serving North Africa, North America, and the Caribbean.[4] Passenger numbers peaked in 2007 when just over one million passed through the airport. In 2011 however, the number had fallen to around 610,000 passengers.[2]

On 25 November 2008, Bournemouth Airport was ranked best airport in the United Kingdom and third best in the world, after Singapore Changi Airport and Hong Kong International Airport, by the Daily Telegraph Travel Awards.[5][6]

Bournemouth Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (number P736) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Ryanair and Thomson Airways remain the primary users of the airport. Bournemouth Airport is owned and operated by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the largest British airport operator.


Bournemouth Airport is situated on the edge of Hurn village in the Borough of Christchurch, 4 miles (6 km) north of Bournemouth, 1 mile (1.6 km) west of the A338 and approximately 100 miles (160 km) south west of London. The airport is accessible via the A31 from the M27 and M3 motorway to the east, and via the A35 to the west.

The nearest other airports serving the area are Exeter International Airport and Southampton Airport.



Bournemouth Airport began as RAF Hurn on 1 August 1941, during World War II. It was used for paratroop training and as a glider base before the North African Landings in 1943. Prior to D-Day, it was the base of 570 Squadron, who landed agents and dropped supplies to the French Resistance. The hardened runways of the airfield saw extensive use by United States Army Air Forces in the preparations for D-Day and the subsequent Battle of Normandy. It was also the home base of 84 Group, RAF Second Tactical Air Force, comprising nine squadrons of Typhoons, who flew daily to France supporting ground forces.

From November 1944 the airfield took over from Bristol's Whitchurch airport[7] as the main operating base for British Overseas Airways Corporation until Heathrow fully opened in 1948.[8] Starting in October 1945 Hurn served as London's transatlantic airport until Heathrow opened to the airlines in mid-1946. It was the starting point of the first England-Australia landplane service, which took three days in Avro Lancastrians (modified Lancaster bombers). The airport served Accra, Cairo, Calcutta, Johannesburg, New York, Sydney and Washington D.C.


First charter flights

1958 saw the first Palmair charter from the airport, using a single 36 seat Viking aircraft destined for Palma de Mallorca.[9] The service was one of the first charter flights in the United Kingdom.

Aircraft manufacture

Vickers-Armstrongs took over some ex-BOAC hangars at Hurn in 1951 and started production of Varsities, then Viscounts and eventually, as the British Aircraft Corporation, the BAC One-Eleven.

Nearly all Vickers Viscounts & BAC 1-11s were built at this site. Some of the development of the ill-fated TSR-2 was also done here (but assembly and testing was at Warton, Lancs), as well as the production of a number of parts for Concorde. The closure of the BAC site in the 1980s saw an end to Bournemouth's role as a significant player in the aircraft construction industry. The site of the BAC works now forms one of Dorset's largest industrial sites, including a base for Cobham plc.

College of Air Traffic Control

Adjacent to the entrance to Bournemouth Airport was the College of Air Traffic Control, operated by NATS, the now privatised provider of air traffic control services in the UK. Established by the Ministry of Civil Aviation as the School of Air Traffic Control in 1949, the establishment was retitled College in 1962. Students from home and abroad were trained in all aspects of ATC operations and went on to work throughout the world. Electronic computer-based ATC simulators were widely employed. Usefully situated at an operational airfield, for a considerable period training in Approach Radar Control was facilitated by the airport ATC unit. Students were able to practise live radar control exercises using temporarily detached Civil Aviation Flying Unit Dove aircraft as live targets. The building was also the home to the Air Traffic Control Evaluation Unit, responsible for developing technology used within the service. During 2011 NATS transferred ATC training to its headquarters facility at Whiteley near Southampton. The Hurn facility is now closed awaiting its fate.

Change of ownership

In 1969 the airport was purchased jointly by the Bournemouth Corporation and Dorset County Council[8] and renamed as "Bournemouth Airport" (later to become Bournemouth International Airport). The new owners decided to redevelop the facility as a commercial airport and, by 1980, the airport became used by charter airlines, when European Aviation began services.


In 1993, the airport received its first regular passenger flight when Palmair wet leased its first aircraft and European Aviation Air Charter (EAC) started operations. In 1995, the airport was sold to National Express Group and then, in March 2001, was acquired by the Manchester Airports Group, the largest UK-owned airport group.

In 1996, a new extension to the main runway was officially opened by the arrival of Concorde. Bath Travel chartered Concorde for supersonic champagne lunches across the Bay of Biscay. Ryanair also began services from Bournemouth to Dublin with one of its Boeing 737-200.

In 1999 Bournemouth Aviation Museum was formed and occupied a 30,000 square feet (2,800 m2) hangar at Bournemouth International Airport and employed a limited number of staff together with over 70 unpaid volunteers. The museum was forced to downsize and move outside the boundary of the airfield when the hangar was scheduled to be pulled down to make way for a new car park.

Since 2001, a Boeing 747SP has been based at the airport which is used by the Royal Family of Qatar and other VIP government staff from the Middle East state of Qatar. The aircraft is often stored in the former BASCO building (Hangar 12) and is a regular visitor to Zürich Airport and London Heathrow Airport.[10]

In 2003, EAC acquired six Boeing 747-200s from British Airways, with the intention of operating long haul holidays from the airport. Due to financial difficulties, these aircraft were scrapped in 2005.

Bath Travel's Palmair remained the prime user of the airport, with a 737-200 permanently based there. In 2005 Thomsonfly became the first major low cost airline to establish a hub at Bournemouth; allocating two Boeing 737-300 aircraft for low-cost scheduled services to Europe and in 2008 to the Caribbean.[11] Also in 2005, Air Berlin and EasyJet began services by announcing routes to Paderborn and Geneva respectively. Air Berlin have now ceased operations at the airport. The airport previously had a daily service to the Channel Islands provided by the Jersey-based Blue Islands airline, which withdrew from Bournemouth in April 2009. Polish-based Wizzair also ran routes to Gdansk, Katowice, and Kraków during 2006 and 2007.

Current routes

In 2007, Ryanair began to rapidly increase the number of services from the airport, initially starting routes to Marseille, Alicante, and Milan which brought the total to eight. In December, 2007, EasyJet announced a new seasonal route to Grenoble, bring the number of routes to two. The route ceased at the end of the 2008 winter season. In 2008, Palmair introduced a new series of charter flights to Tunisia, Fuerteventura, Naples, Amalfi Coast, and Rhodes. Olympic Holidays also launched new charter flights to Corfu and Zakynthos in Greece and Larnaca in Cyprus.

On 9 January 2008, Ryanair announced that they would base one of their Boeing 737-800s at Bournemouth from April 2008.[12] During the first quarter, the airline announced routes to Málaga, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Wroclaw and the re-introduction of the Nantes route. An additional flight each day was added to the Glasgow Prestwick route, with the addition of a twice-daily flight to Edinburgh. In May the same year, Bergamo and Beauvais routes were announced to commence in October plus a new weekly ski flight to Turin for the winter season.

Increasing from 14 routes, after the discontinuation of the Nantes route, to 18 - Carcassonne, Faro, Limoges, and Reus were added to the route network in February 2009.

June 2009 saw the announcement of a new Thomson Airways Boeing 737-800 to be based at the airport to add extra capacity to existing routes, plus the introduction of five new routes. The new destinations include Antalya, Bodrum, Corfu, Monastir and the airport's first regular long-haul destination, Sharm el-Sheikh.

In July 2009 the airport's busiest route to Glasgow-Prestwick was discontinued, and an announcement soon followed to discontinue the Edinburgh route which ended on 27 March 2010.

In December 2009 bmibaby announced a new summer route to Jersey. It was the first time the airline had operated out of the airport; they provided three services a week, using a Boeing 737-500. Again in December, Ryanair added four new routes to the network, bringing the total to 17. Another Boeing 737-800 was based at the airport and the airline projected to fly 650,000 passengers per annum at Bournemouth,[13] however the actual figure was lower.

Ryanair has operated a number of services from Bournemouth, including its scheduled services to Eastern and Western Europe. March 2012 sees the reinstatement of its Wroclaw and Carcassonne services on a seasonal basis.

Following the closure of European Aviation Air Charter, Palmair chartered various aircraft types from Jet2, Viking, Blue Line, Tor Air and Astraeus, before unveiling their new Astraeus-leased Boeing 737-500 (G-PJPJ) on 13 May 2009.[14] The original agreement was for the aircraft to be leased until April 2012, but the airline ceased operations in October 2010.

Flybe started services in May 2010 but discontinued services in November the same year. It led to no scheduled services from the airport.

After a hiatus of services, Blue Islands recommenced services to Guernsey and Jersey on 1 November 2011.

In 2012, Aer Arann and Aerlingus launched a franchised service to Dublin six times a week.

In July 2013, Ryanair announced that their winter flights would return to Bournemouth with a number of sun flights returned to year round service.


In 2007, the airport's owners, Manchester Airports Group, announced a £32 million investment in the redevelopment of the airport which mainly focuses on creating new car parking spaces in two separate car parks and building a new International Arrivals terminal. Part of these plans include screening off the current arrivals terminal with a three-metre screen, with plans to ultimately phase out use of the building. On 21 June 2007, planning permission was granted to the scheme by Christchurch Council Planning Committee, despite public objections and protests. This was conditional, however, on a maximum of three million air passengers per annum, and required contributions to road systems, bus routes, and to use quieter aircraft.

With the budget increased to £45 million in July 2008, the upgrade will replace the arrivals terminal and upgrade the check-in and departure lounge areas. The number of aircraft stands would rise from 4 to 11. Christchurch Council and central government backed plans for the re-building of the airport terminal, increasing its size by 62%; work started in August 2007.[15]

The development restarted in August 2008 with the runway being resurfaced, and a new Thales Cat IIIa ILS on Runway 26 with associated aerodrome ground lighting and IRVR were installed during December 2008. The main apron has been expanded to a total of 11 stands for aircraft of Boeing 737-800 size, including two stands for aircraft of Boeing 767-300 size (a widebody airplane), and construction of a car park towards the south boundary has been completed.

Work on the terminal itself is now complete, where the check-in areas, security control and departure lounges have been upgraded. A new World Duty Free store has opened on the airside, as have a new WHSmith store and the UK's largest The Olive Tree eaterie. All remaining retail space has since been completed and opened.

The new arrivals hall was completed on time and budget in July 2011. The building produces 70% less Carbon Dioxide than the previous facility with the design taking advantage of the building’s orientation to make maximum possible use of solar gain, solar shading, daylight and natural ventilation. These measures will reduce the need for mechanical and electrical installations which, in turn, will reduce the building’s energy requirements.[15]

Other improvements to the infrastructure around the airport include more frequent bus services to Bournemouth Interchange and traffic lights at the entrance to the airport have been constructed. Plans for modification of Hurn village roundabout have been planned but a time scale has not been set.

Airlines and destinations





Traffic and statistics

Passenger statistics

Number of Passengers[16] Number of Movements[17] Passengers Change
2003 460,872 76,177 Increase17.6%
2004 492,882 77,142 Increase6.9%
2005 829,108 79,512 Increase68.2%
2006 960,773 75,505 Increase15.9%
2007 1,083,379 71,742 Increase12.8%
2008 1,078,941 78,527 Decrease0.1%
2009 868,445 82,538 Decrease19.5%
2010 751,331 55,398 Decrease13.7%
2011 613,755 51,799 Decrease18.3%
2012 689,913 76,158 Increase12.6%
Source: UK Civil Aviation Authority[2]

Route statistics

Busiest routes to and from Bournemouth Airport (2011)[2]
Rank Airport Passengers handled  % change
1  Spain, Palma de Mallorca 81,440 17.2
2  Spain, Alicante 75,240 33.4
3  Spain, Tenerife-South 52,855 −15.9
4  Spain, Girona-Costa Brava 51,736 2.7
5  Spain, Malaga 45,149 -39.3
6  Portugal, Faro 32,017 24.8
7   Switzerland, Geneva 29,844 12.1
8  Spain, Murcia 28,779 −38.2
9  Turkey, Dalaman 27,257 150.2
10  Spain, Ibiza 26,403 10.2
11  Spain, Lanzarote 20,059 −17.4
12  Spain, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria 19,461 2.9
13  Italy, Pisa 18,159 4.9
14  Egypt, Sharm el-Sheikh 16,649 41.9
15  Cyprus, Paphos 15,375 10.2
16  Turkey, Antalya 13,140 94.9
17  Spain, Fuerteventura 11,379 −42.8
18  Greece, Rhodes 10,772 14.6
19  Greece, Corfu 8,938 19.9
20  Turkey, Milas-Bodrum 6,876 -23.2

Accidents and incidents

On 28 January 1972, Vickers Viscount D-ANEF of Airwork Services was damaged beyond repair when the undercarriage collapsed after a heavy landing.[18]

Shortly after 17:00 on 11 February 2006, millionaire adventurer Steve Fossett made an emergency landing at Bournemouth International Airport, after completing the longest non-stop flight in history, having covered 25,766 miles (41,466 km) in 76 hours and 43 minutes.[19] Fossett had planned to end his flight 144 miles (232 km) further away at Kent International Airport, but the failure of an electrical generator on board the Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer forced him to issue a Mayday call and land in limited visibility, bursting two tyres as he touched down.

Between 15 April and 21 April 2010, Bournemouth Airport was closed to IFR Traffic as a result of the eruptions by Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. The eruptions caused severe disruptions to services as the UK government deemed it necessary to close air space until ash ejected into the stratosphere had subsided. It was originally feared that disruptions could continue as the last eruption lasted around 16 months. Services resumed on 22 April. Despite this, VFR Traffic continued and Bournemouth Airport became the busiest airport during this period as it has a large general aviation clientele.

Other facilities

The airport has a 200-acre (0.81 km2) industrial park, including offices and hangars. In early March 2009, Manchester Airport Developments Ltd completed the construction of Cirrus Court, a development of 14 industrial units which is the first part of a number of phases to redevelop the northern aviation sector.[20]

When Channel Express operated, its head office was in Building 470 at the airport.[21]

Babcock International Group has its Defence and Security offices located at the airport.

See also

Dorset portal
Aviation portal



Template:Airports in the United Kingdom

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