The airport opened as RAF Hurn and as part of its wartime duties, it was home to a range of aircraft, including Spitfires, Wellingtons and Typhoons. Towards the end of 1942, it became a base for a number of American squadrons.
Towards the end of the war, the airport was transferred to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, and, for a couple of years became the UK’s only intercontinental airport (until the opening of Heathrow Airport). Among the destinations served from Bournemouth were Accra, Cairo, Calcutta, Johannesburg, New York, Sydney and Washington.
Bournemouth Airport was heavily involved in aircraft production. Vickers Viscount aircraft were built there during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by production of the BAC 1-11 jet aircraft during the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, more than half of all BAC 1-11s were built at Bournemouth. Components for Concorde were also built at the airport during this period.
The first Palmair flight – a 36 seat BEA Viking aircraft – took off bound for Palma, Majorca – one of the UK’s first charter holiday flights. The Bournemouth-based company is still operating out of Bournemouth Airport today and flies to a dozen holiday destinations as well as operating a popular series of day trips.
The airport was sold to National Express Group and, during the following winter the main runway was extended to 2271 metres, making it one of the longest in southern England.
The longer runway is officially opened, with Concorde the first aircraft to fly in. Thousands turned up to see her spectacular arrival. In the following years, Bath Travel regularly chartered Concorde and it became a frequent visitor to the airport.
The airport was sold to the Manchester Airport Group, which also owns Manchester, East Midlands and Humberside Airports. Over the next couple of years Ryanair added new routes to Girona and Prestwick. Le Cocqs Airlink (now Blue Islands) began regular flights to the Channel Islands.
Thomsonfly opened a new base at Bournemouth, locating two Boeing 737 aircraft at the airport. As well as flights to a range of European holiday and city break destinations, it also created around 100 jobs and brought a significant number of inbound visitors into the region.
easyJet began a daily winter service to Geneva and Air Berlin started a new route to Paderborn, Germany. During 2005, passenger numbers double from 494,000 to 917,000.
Manchester Airports Group agreed to commit £32 million to redevelop the airport. The programme will include terminal development, a new international arrivals hall, improved surface access facilities, realignment of the east apron stands and additional car parking.
The Government Office South West approved the airport’s planning application (approved by the previous month by Christchurch Borough Council) and work began on the redevelopment programme.
Wizz Air started a new service to Katowice, Poland – the airport’s first route to Eastern Europe – and Ryanair added new routes to Marseille and Nantes.
In addition to commercial flights, Bournemouth Airport is a hive of other aviation activity, including cargo - with flowers from the Channel Islands as well as Royal Mail flights – in addition to the operation (by Cobham’s FR Aviation) of a fleet of Falcon jets for service with the RAF and Royal Navy. The airport is also home to three flying schools training private and commercial pilots.
Bournemouth Airport confirmed that its owners – the Manchester Airport Group – have agreed to invest an additional £13million in the redevelopment programme. This will bring the total cost of the project to £45million.
Bournemouth Airport was voted the ‘third best airport in the world’ in this week’s Daily Telegraph Travel Awards.
Ryanair announced three routes to the Canary Islands for winter 2009/10. Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Tenerife.
A landmark year for Bournemouth Airport and the official opening of its new departures terminal in June marked an important milestone in the airport's £45 million redevelopment programme. The new terminal is twice the size of the old building, and has three times more retail and catering space.
Bournemouth Airport was named as the ‘most improved airport in Europe’ for the quality of its customer satisfaction.
Bournemouth Airport was voted the ‘Best Airport in Europe’ in the 1-5 million passenger category of the ACI EUROPE Best Airport Awards.
New Arrivals Terminal opened at Bournemouth Airport. The building has been designed to be carbon neutral and is believed to be Europe's first carbon neutral airport building.
This has been achieved by a wide range of energy efficient features - including the installation of 323 photovoltaic (solar) panels on the roof of the building. (To put this into context, it is estimated that the solar panels on the roof will generate enough electricity to power more than 130 homes).