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Gibraltar Airport, Gibraltar

July 31st, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

Probably the only airport in the world to have a public road run across the runway.

Gibraltar Airport (IATA: GIB, ICAO: LXGB) is the only airport in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar on the Iberian Peninsula. It is owned by the Ministry Of Defence. Civilian operators use the airport; currently the only scheduled flights operate to the United Kingdom and Spain. Passengers depart and arrive through the civilian operated terminal.

Gibraltar Airport has the distinction of being the closest international airport to the city that it serves, being only 500 metres from Gibraltar's city centre. In 2004 the airport handled 314,375 passengers and 380 tonnes of cargo. Gibraltar Airport is one of the few Class A airports in the world.

The airport was constructed during World War II upon the colony's race course (introduced by the Maltese), when Gibraltar was an important naval base for the British. Originally opened in 1939, it was only an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. However, it was later extended by reclaiming some land, allowing larger aircraft to land.

Spain's continuing sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the territory where the airport stands (different to the generic one on Gibraltar itself) has seriously affected the airport's operations. In December 2, 1987, an agreement was signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain to allow the joint civil use of the airport . The agreement foresaw the building of a new terminal at La Línea de la Concepción, Cádiz, Spain, adjacent to the northern side of the existing frontier-fence. However, the agreement was blocked by the Government of Gibraltar, led from 1988, by Joe Bossano. As a result, the agreement was never implemented.

Since then, Spain successfully excluded Gibraltar from European wide de-regulation initiatives, preventing direct links from Gibraltar to the rest of the European Union (except the UK), on the grounds that no regulation that somehow recognizes the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over the isthmus may be implemented without a previous agreement on the airport.

By late 2005 and early 2006, the implementation of a new agreement, sort of a refurbished version of the 1987 agreement, is one of the main topics of the tri-partite talks being held between the Governments of Spain, Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.

On 18 September 2006, the Cordoba Accord was signed by the United Kingdom, the Kingdom of Spain and Gibraltar. This ended all discriminatory restrictions on civilian flights to Gibraltar Airport, including the prohibition of flights over Spanish soil, and exclusion of Gibraltar from all EU agreements on air transport, allowing civilian flights from all nations into Gibraltar Airport.

On 17 November 2006, Iberia announced that it would start flights from Madrid to Gibraltar using Airbus A319 aircraft. This is a landmark move as no Spanish airline has flown to Gibraltar since 1979, because of its disputed status.

The first Iberia flight landed at Gibraltar Airport on December 16, 2006 from Madrid with some members of the Spanish Government onboard. British Airways operated a one-off flight in the other direction with a group of children from Gibraltar making up some of the passengers, and since May 2007 has been running a regular service between Madrid and Gibraltar.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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