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East Midlands Airport, Castle Donington, England

June 9th, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

East Midlands Airport (IATA: EMA, ICAO: EGNX) is an airport in the East Midlands of England, near Castle Donington in Leicestershire. It lies between the cities of Derby, Leicester and Nottingham, all within a 30 mile radius of the airfield.

EMA has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P520) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. EMA is the largest unrestricted airport in the UK, while at the same time being the second largest freight airport. This is an important point for local residents, since many freight operations take place at night, and many discussion points have been raised recently by residents who do not wish for passenger night services to increase.

The airport was originally a Royal Air Force station, RAF Castle Donington, which was decommissioned in 1946. The site was purchased by a consortium of local government authorities in 1964, when a major program of building work and runway investment was begun. The airfield was renamed East Midlands Airport to reflect the area it served, and it opened for passengers in April 1965.

Effectively, EMA replaced the smaller pre-war Derby Airport at Burnaston, and the base's light aircraft later moved to a new site near Marston on Dove. The original Derby Airport site at Burnaston has since been redeveloped into a Toyota car factory.

Derby Airways, which was in the process of being renamed British Midland Airways, moved its operations to the new airport and established its headquarters in nearby Castle Donington, creating a network of domestic and international scheduled and charter flights at East Midlands. The airfield was established with basic requirements of a 5,850 ft runway, a 60 ft taxiway, a new hangar floor and aprons and parking for 850 cars. Financially, it was not an instant success. However the picture quickly changed with the increased volume of freight traffic, soon demanding further development. In 1970, an agreement was reached on creating a new freight complex and both the runway and the terminal were extended.

Expansion was swift, with a further runway extension and terminal upgrade in the late 1970s. During 1985, one million passengers utilized the airport for the first time, calling for yet another terminal extension. Following government legislation, the airport became a public limited company in 1987, distancing it from all-out control of the local authorities.

With growing passenger and freight traffic, further expansion was proposed for East Midlands in 1992. However, despite the enthusiasm of the local authorities who owned the airport, the funds necessary were not raised, so in 1993 East Midlands became the first major regional airport in the UK to be privatised. National Express Group successfully purchased the airfield for £24.3m and began their investment into the airport facilities. A £20m, 600m extension to the runway was added to allow EMA to handle long haul flights, and a new air traffic control tower was constructed, the second tallest in the UK. National Express investment would eventually total over £77m over an 8 year period.

DHL Aviation opened a new £35m cargo facility on site in 2000, and in the same year a business park was constructed next to the airport. However, National Express Group announced its intention to concentrate on bus and rail provision, and sold East Midlands Airport, together with Bournemouth Airport, in March 2001 to Manchester Airport Group for £241m.

The arrival of low fares "no-frills" carriers in 2002 resulted in a sharp jump in passenger numbers, rising 36% in that year to 3.23 million. Go Fly established a hub at East Midlands, and the operation has been strengthened since the airline's absorption by easyJet. The majority of bmi operations were ceded to a new low cost subsidiary, bmibaby, in 2002.

By 2006, annual passengers had reached 4.72 million, twelfth highest in the UK. (per official statistics issued by the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority).

Following increasing overcrowding of the terminal building, it has been decided to extend and remodel these facilities. For the summer season 2007, the security checkpoint will be moved allowing for more 'lines' to operate simultaneously. The arrivals hall will extend into the present bus park, and a new transport interchange is being created. Although the amount of space landside has been continually reduced owing to developments in the 2000's, a major extension is being created airside. A new pier is being created to reduce 'across tarmac' walking to aircraft. The new developments are said to be environmentally firendly, and include features such as increased natural lighting, and toilets which flush with reclaimed rainwater.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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