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Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Liverpool, England

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

Liverpool John Lennon Airport (IATA: LPL, ICAO: EGGP) is an airport serving the English city of Liverpool. Formerly known as Speke Airport and RAF Speke, the airport is located adjacent to the estuary of the River Mersey some 7.5 miles (12 km) south-east of the centre of Liverpool.

In recent years it has been one of Europe's fastest growing airports, having increased its annual passenger numbers from 875,000 in 1998 to 4.96 million in the twelve months to December 2006, a growth rate of 12.6% compared to a much higher 31.5% in 2005. Parking facilities, although extended, have not kept pace with the demand, and so latest plans are for a new multi-storey car park, which will be able to hold 870 vehicles. There are also plans for a new hotel with 150 rooms.

Speke Airport, as the airport was originally known, started scheduled flights in 1930, however it was 'officially' opened in the summer of 1933. In the late 1930s, as air traffic from Liverpool was beginning to 'take-off' with increasing demand for Irish Sea crossings, a distinctive passenger terminal, control tower and two large aircraft hangars were built.

A Bristol Freighter Taxis at Liverpool Airport in 1961

A Bristol Freighter Taxis at Liverpool Airport in 1961

During World War II, the airport was taken over by the Royal Air Force and known as RAF Speke. Rootes Motors built many bombers here, including Bristol Blenheims and 1070 Handley Page Halifaxes. Lockheeds assembled many types including Hudsons and Mustangs, that had been shipped from the USA to Liverpool Docks. Speke was witness to what is thought to be the fastest air to air combat "kill" in the Battle of Britain and possibly of all time. Squadron Leader Denys Gillam took off in his Hawker Hurricane from Speke to be confronted by a Junkers 88 passing across him. As his undercarriage was still retracting he shot the Junkers down. The moment has been caught in a painting by Robert Taylor called "Fastest Victory".

In 1966, a new 7500 feet runway was opened on a new site to the east of the existing airfield. It enabled the airport to be open for business around the clock and is in use to this day. Control of the airport transferred to Merseyside County Council from Liverpool Corporation in the mid 1970s and 10 years later to the five Merseyside councils following the abolition of Merseyside County Council. A new modern passenger terminal, adjacent to the runway on the southern airfield site, opened in 1986, following the closure of the original 1930s building.

The original terminal building from the 1930s, famously seen on early television footage with its terraces packed with Beatles fans, was left derelict for over a decade after being replaced in 1986. However it has recently been renovated and adapted to become the Marriott Liverpool South Hotel, preserving its Grade II listed art deco style.

In 1990 ownership of the airport was privatised, with British Aerospace taking a 76% shareholding in the new company. Subsequently the airport has become a wholly owned subsidiary of Peel Holdings Ltd. In 2000, work on a £42.5 million modern passenger terminal began, tripling the its size and passenger capacity, and this development was completed in 2002. There have since been further extensions. The airport's strategy is to cater largely for 'low cost' operators, and the terminal layout is consequently rather basic and often requires lengthy open air walks to/from passenger aircraft.

2002 saw the airport being renamed in honour of John Lennon, a founding member of Liverpudlian band The Beatles, twenty-two years after Lennon's death. A 7ft bronze statue of the local icon proudly stands overlooking the check-in hall. On the roof is painted the airport's motto, a line from Lennon's song "Imagine": "Above us, only sky".

In 2005 the Yellow Submarine, a large-scale work of art that had had various homes around the city, was installed on a traffic island at the entrance to the airport.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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