In the 1930’s Exeter Airport started off as little more than a dream, but after a good few years of disputes over land ownership, and the process of developing an aerodrome and obtaining licenses, this dream became a reality.
One of the first landings at the airport on the 10th May 1937 was a celebration in more ways than one. It wasn’t just the site of a Leopard Moth aircraft landing on the airfield for the first time, but this aircraft also brought the people of Exeter films of King George VI’s coronation, for showing in the cinemas.
Regular air traffic started arriving at the airport on the 31st may 1937 when the airport officially opened. Exeter Airport welcomed a plane from Jersey, and continued to offer flights to/from the Channel Islands, and also operated routes to Plymouth and Cardiff. On the 9th September 1937, with the first stage of a terminal building complete, the airport was officially licensed for public use. The airports early history also includes being taken over by the RAF and the United States Air Force soon after World War 2 began, and it also served as a base for aircraft manufacturers.
From 1952 onwards the airport that we know today began to take shape, with small airlines operating flights to the Channel Islands, Manchester, the South West, Scilly Isles, Leeds, and Belfast. Originally owned by Exeter Airport Ltd, the business also changed ownership several times, more recently moving from Devon County Council, into the hands of Regional and City Airports Ltd.
The advent of ‘all inclusive’ holiday deals and ‘charter flights’ has seen much larger planes taxi on the runway than in the early days of its use. This, along with fairly recent investment in a new arrivals building and departure lounge has helped the airport with its long term plans to increase its capacity and the routes it offers.
Today, the airport has a winter schedule running from November to April, and a summer season which runs from May-October. Highlights in the 2012 summer schedule includes long-haul flights to Toronto in Canada, daily flights across the UK, Channel Islands, and Scilly Isles with Flybe, and routes are also offered to the main European holiday hotspots, including Spain, Portugal, the Greek Islands and Turkey. For winter 2011/12 Lapland, a Northern Lights excursion and flights to the Netherlands, Austria, and Switzerland were planned. You could even fly off to Barbados and join a winter cruise. Sounds good doesn’t it? And it certainly helps with the airport’s aim of becoming ‘the airport of choice’ for air travel in South West UK.