Birmingham Airport - 70 years ago today!!

Birmingham "Elmdon" Airport opened Seventy Years ago
today on Monday 1 May 1939
BHX - a historical perspective
Birmingham’s “Elmdon” Airport was constructed by the City of Birmingham
on a site eight miles south east of the city centre and opened on 1 May 1939.
The first arrival was the Lord Mayor in a two-seater Swallow aircraft to be
followed that same afternoon with the first scheduled flight, a De Havilland
Dragon Rapide from Liverpool.
A Dragon Rapide was the first arrival
A formal opening attended by HRH The Duchess of Kent and the Prime Minster,
the Rt Hon Neville Chamberlain, was held on Saturday 8 July 1939 by which time
no less than eight destinations were being served from Birmingham.
Unfortunately this early success was short lived as within two months the Second
World War broke out and the Air Ministry requisitioned the site. During the war
years the airfield was used for both flight training and flight testing of Lancaster
and Stirling bombers built in nearby factories.
The airport reopened for civil flights on 8 July 1948 but in the austere post war
years it was not until 1949 that scheduled services recommenced – a daily service
to Paris operated by a British European Airways Dakota. Over the following years
scheduled services – and passenger numbers – grew steadily and in the 1950’s the
first “package tour” flights were introduced to the continent.
In 1967 main runway was extended to allow the regular use of jet airliners for the
first time and this resulted in a further increase in routes and passenger traffic.
By the mid 1970’s the airport was handling over a million passengers a year and
the existing terminal on the “Elmdon” site was already bursting at the seams. A
long planning and consultation exercise thus began to build a completely new
terminal on a site on the eastern side of the airfield adjacent to the main railway
line to London and the recently built National Exhibition Centre.
1984 saw the opening of the new site and terminal – with a capacity for 3 million
passengers a year – while the Elmdon site was retained for use by business and
general aviation, VIP and cargo flights and the Air Traffic Control service.
A video feature marking 25 years of the current terminal can be found at -
Concorde was a visitor for the official opening of the "new" terminal in 1984
Passenger traffic grew strongly in the 1980’s and in 1988 work commenced on a
second terminal “Eurohub” adjacent to the “Main” terminal with both terminals
subsequently being joined together by the “Millennium Link” and being renamed
Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
In 2008 work started on the new “International Pier” ....
.... to give us the airport we see today.
BHX in 2009!

The Airport Company will be marking the Airport's
70th anniversary later in summer - more details
here in due course!!


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