History of Belfast Airport

Belfast Airport:

So how did it all begin?

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Aldergrove was selected to be the Royal Flying Corps training establishment during the First World War. After the war Aldergrove remained open for Royal Air Force aircraft and for the fledgling civil traffic to and from Northern Ireland.

In 1921 King George V and Queen Mary visited Northern Ireland. Aircraft landed at Aldergrove with cameramen and reporters and returned to London with newsreel films and photographs of the event.

1925 saw Northern Ireland's own Special Reserve unit No 502 (Ulster) Squadron RAF formed at Aldergrove. Northern Ireland's first regular civil air service started in 1933 with a Glasgow to Aldergrove route operated by Midland and Scottish Air Ferries.

By 1934 Aldergrove was Northern Ireland's civil airport and this year saw the first London service begin to Nutts Corner. The flight flew from Croydon, via Birmingham and Manchester to Belfast and was operated by Railway Air Services.

During the second World War, Aldergrove remained an airbase. After the war civil flights were moved back to Aldergrove due to less variable weather conditions than at Nutts Corner.

In 1963 operations were transferred to Aldergrove and the first passenger flight to land was a BEA Viscount from Manchester. In October this year HRH Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother reopened Aldergrove as a civil airport and introduced the terminal building.

The first regular jet service began in 1966 with a British United BAC 1-11 to Gatwick. By 1969 annual passengers at the airport had reached 1 million.

30 years on Belfast airport is the principal gateway to the north of Ireland and sees over 4 million passengers through the terminal each year.