East Midlands Airport marks 50th anniversary

East Midlands Airport - 1972 Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption The airport, seen here in November 1972, opened in 1965

East Midlands Airport has marked its 50th anniversary.

It started life as Castle Donington Airfield - a decommissioned RAF base, and now handles 4.5m passengers a year.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption Passengers check in at the British Midlands Airways check-in desks in the late 1970s

An estimated 95m passengers have passed through the airport since it opened on 2 April 1965.

In 1963, it was bought for £37,500 by a committee of representatives from Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire and Derbyshire as a replacement for Burnaston Aerodrome near Derby, which later became part of Toyota's car factory.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption The remains of the former RAF barracks can be seen at the top of this aerial photograph in the late 1970s

Work started on the £1.37m airport in 1964. In its first year, 114,000 passengers passed through the airport, which now sees 4.5m passengers a year.

The first destination on offer was Glasgow but it now flies to more than 70 locations as diverse as Aberdeen and Barbados.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption Concorde landed at East Midlands Airport until 1998. This one was photographed in 1979

A runway was extended in 1970 to accommodate bigger aircraft but the first Boeing 757 did not arrive until 1982.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption The Queen Mother visited the airport on 9 November, 1977

Since it was officially opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1965, it has had its fair share of royal visitors, including the Queen Mother in 1977 and Princess Anne who opened a £3m passenger terminal in 1986.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Kegworth disaster was a dark chapter in the history of East Midlands Airport

In 1989, disaster struck when a Boeing 737 tried to make an emergency landing at the airport but crashed on the M1 motorway at nearby Kegworth, killing 47 people.

Mercifully, no one was killed on the ground and 74 passengers and crew survived.

Image copyright East midlands airport
Image caption More than half of the 95m passengers to pass through the airport have done so in the past 10 years, the airport said

A £14.5m new departure building opened in 1996, when the airport welcomed its 25 millionth passenger.

Managing director Andy Cliffe said the aviation industry had changed "enormously" in the past 50 years, with the proliferation of low cost carriers.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption The crew briefing room, showing Lanson tubes taken in the late 1960s

Derby Airways was the first company to fly from East Midlands. The firm later became British Midland which operated at the airport in the form of low cost airline BMI Baby until 2012.

In 2004, Ryanair began operations and the airport introduced self service check-in.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The device found at the airport, along with another found in Dubai, originated in Yemen and were bound for the US

The airport hit global headlines in 2010 when a suspicious package discovered on a Chicago-bound cargo plane was found to contain explosives.

The package, which was a printer toner cartridge with wires attached, was addressed to two Jewish places of worship in the city.

Image copyright East Maidlands Airport
Image caption The view from the air traffic control tower in 1965

East Midlands, which employs about 7,000 people across its entire site, is the UK base for carrier services DHL, TNT and UPS and is the main air hub for Royal Mail.

The airport, which is owned by Manchester Airports Group, is the busiest cargo airport in the UK, shifting more than 300,000 tonnes a year.

"Our long term plan is to grow to about 10m passengers and 1m tonnes of freight. We're ambitious for our future," said Mr Cliffe.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption Passenger check-in desks in 1967

A £12m terminal redevelopment is about to be completed at the airport

The anniversary was marked with a party on Thursday and a time capsule will be created later this year.

Image copyright East Midlands Airport
Image caption The main airport restaurant in 1967

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