Gibraltar Airport

Mar 21st, 2013 | By | Category: General Information

Gibraltar Airport Arrivals and Departures

Gibraltar Airport serves the British territory of Gibraltar, and is formally owned by the Ministry of Defense. It was built and is used still for the RAF Gibraltar, but it is also used by the civilians of Gibraltar as well.

Gibraltar airport is the closest airport to the city of Gibraltar of course, with just about 500 metres separating it from the city. As of this writing, it schedules only flights to the UK and Spain, with passengers both arriving and departing through a civilian operated terminal.

The Gibraltar airport as of 2004 saw about 314,375 passengers come through its gates, and several hundred tonnes of cargo, and is rated as one of only handful of the Class A airports that exist in the world. The airport at Gibraltar was built during World War 2, on the race course of Gibraltar. Gibraltar was at that point a very important colony, and a very strategic naval base for the British.

The airport was originally opened in 1939, but it was at that time merely an emergency stopping point for the Royal Navy Air Fleet, however, they reclaimed some land from the sea, from what is the Bay of Gibraltar, used that to extend the runway to permit larger planes to fly in.

Taking this land from the Bay of Gibraltar, which Spain claimed as its territorial waters, and the extension of the runway at that point created some tensions between Britain and Spain, however it did, as mentioned permit larger aircraft to land on Gibraltar’s runway.

The continuous dispute over the sovereignty of the area that houses the airport has in fact done serious detriment to the operations of the airport.

1987 saw an agreement signed between the two countries, England and Spain, that would permit joint use of the airport, and in this agreement, the building of a new terminal at La Linea adjacent was planned.
Due to the blocking of the agreement by the Governor of Gibraltar, the agreement was not implemented.

Spain, in seeming retribution, then excluded Gibraltar’s taking part in the European initiatives for deregulation, and had prevented there from being direct air links from Gibraltar to the remainder of the EU, with the exception of the UK. Spain could do so 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.”

In recent years, notably the latter part of 2005 and the earlier part of 2006, there were new discussions (regarding a new agreement) being held between the Spanish, United Kingdom and Gibraltar governments.

The Cordoba accord was signed in September 2006, and that signing effectively ended the restrictions on civilian flights in to Gibraltar Airport, as well as ending the flights from being unable to fly over the Spanish soil, and additionally ended the exclusion of Gibraltar from all EU agreements on air transport, finally permitting civilian flights to fly into Gibraltar Airport from any nation.

Later that year, in November, Iberia gave notice that it would begin making flights from Madrid to Gibraltar using Airbus A319 aircraft. This was a rather ground breaking move for the airline, since no Spanish flight had flown there since 1979. The flights were begun in December, and some members of the Spanish government were aboard the first flight to Gibraltar, while GB Airways, in return, flew what was called a one off flight in the other direction, with children aboard the flight from Gibraltar.

A bare two years later, as of September of 2008, Iberia announced that it would stop their flights to Gibraltar. While economic reasons were cited, the hard reality is that the flights were not in demand and were not often filled.

As late as September of last year, 2008, Monarch Airlines resumed their service from Gibraltar to Manchester Airport, traveling the route three days per week. No airline has offered services to Manchester to Gibraltar since 2006.

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