East Midlands Airport (IATA: EMA, ICAO: EGNX) is an international airport in the East Midlands of England, located in Leicestershire close to Castle Donington. It lies between the cities of Derby (14 miles (23 km)), Nottingham (15 miles (24 km)) and Leicester (18 miles (29 km)).
EMA has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P520) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. East Midlands Airport has established itself as a hub for low fare airlines such as Jet2.com and Ryanair and tour operators like Thomson Airways which serve a range of domestic and European short-haul destinations. It is also a base for BMI Regional, Flybe, and Thomas Cook Airlines. Passenger numbers peaked in 2008 at 5.6 million, but had declined to around 4.5 million in 2015 making it the 11th busiest airport in the UK by passenger traffic. A major air cargo hub, it was the second busiest UK airport for freight traffic in 2015 after London Heathrow.
The airport is owned by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the largest British-owned airport operator which is controlled by the ten metropolitan boroughs of Greater Manchester with Manchester retaining the controlling stake.
The airport was originally a Royal Air Force station, RAF Castle Donington, which was decommissioned in 1946. The site was purchased by a consortium of local government authorities in 1964, when a major programme of building work and runway investment was begun. The airfield was renamed East Midlands Airport to reflect the area it served, and it opened for passengers in April 1965.
Until 1982, when the head office moved to Donington Hall, British Midland had its head office on the airport property. BMI also had its maintenance base at the airport.
Go Fly established a hub at East Midlands, and the operation has been strengthened since the airline's absorption by easyJet. The majority of BMI operations were ceded to a new low cost subsidiary, bmibaby, in 2002.
A major development towards the long-haul programme came in 2005 with the introduction of holiday flights to the Dominican Republic, Orlando, and Cancún by First Choice Airways. Following increasing overcrowding at the terminal building, the airport facilities have been extended and remodelled. There are new short-stay car parks, but there are charges for drop-off outside the terminals. The arrivals hall has been extended, a new transport interchange has been created, and a new pier has been built to reduce 'across tarmac' walking to aircraft.
EasyJet ceased operating from the airport on 5 January 2010. However, it was announced on 13 April 2011 that Bmibaby would close its Manchester and Cardiff bases, moving an additional service to East Midlands Airport with increased frequencies and new routes for summer 2012. It was announced only just over a year later, on 3 May 2012, that Bmibaby would be closed down and cease all operations in September 2012 with a number of services being dropped from June. The parent company, International Airlines Group, cited heavy losses and the failure to find a suitable buyer as the reasons for the decision. In light of the announcement, Flybe and Monarch Airlines announced they would establish a base at the airport, and low-cost airline Jet2.com confirmed they would also expand their operations from the airport with new routes and an additional aircraft from Summer 2013. Monarch Airlines shut down its base at East Midlands as well by spring 2015. Ryanair expanded its East Midlands base with a series of new routes and frequency increases on existing routes. They now serve the airport with 7 based aircraft, 40 destinations, over 320 weekly flights and roughly 2.3 million passengers a year, making it the largest airline at the airport, accounting for about 50% of passenger traffic with East Midlands now being Ryanair's third largest UK airport after London-Stansted and Manchester, both now also owned by MAG.
In 2012 Heathrow handled 1.56 million tonnes of freight & mail compared with 300,000 tonnes at East Midlands. DHL Aviation have a large purpose-built facility at EMA, and courier companies United Parcel Service (UPS) and TNT also use the airport as a base to import/export freight to Belfast and Liege. Since July 2013, Thomson Airways operates with their Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft out of East Midlands, serving the long haul holiday destinations of Sanford (Orlando) and Cancun. There are also return flights to Jamaica and Bridgetown-Bardbados, operated once each year to join cruises and holidays.
The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from East Midlands Airport:
The airport has excellent connections to the motorway network as it is near the M1, M42 and A50, bringing the airfield within easy reach of the major population centres of the Midlands. The airport introduced a charge of £1 to drop car passengers near the departure lounge in 2010. In May 2016, the charge was doubled to £2, with any stay in the area above ten minutes being charged at £1 per minute.
The nearest railway station is East Midlands Parkway, which is 4 miles (6.4 km) away, with regular services to Derby, Sheffield, Nottingham and London. The original shuttle bus service linking the station and the airport had ceased not long after it was introduced, but in 2015 an hourly minibus service was re-introduced by Elite Cars, restoring scheduled shuttle services to and from the airport. Connections to the airport via taxi are also available.
Although very much still in the initial stages of planning, a proposed route for the High Speed 2 rail line from London Euston to the north of England via Birmingham could bring the Leeds branch very close to East Midlands Airport with proposals for a station to serve the airport and the Nottingham and Derby catchment areas.
There are frequent Skylink services operated by Kinchbus and Trent Barton. Kinchbus run buses from Leicester to Derby via Loughborough and Trent Barton operate a route from Nottingham to Loughborough via Beeston and Long Eaton. Both services operate every 20 minutes during the day and hourly throughout the night, seven days a week. Skylink Express, also operated by Trent Barton, started operating on 31 January 2016. This service runs via the A453 road into Nottingham, serving the Clifton South Park & Ride tram stop, Nottingham Trent University and West Bridgford.
The East Midlands Aeropark to the north west corner of the airport has a large number of static aircraft on public display. The museum and its exhibits are managed and maintained by the Aeropark Volunteers Association (AVA). It also offers two viewing mounds for watching aircraft arriving and departing from the main runway. AVA Members are allowed free access to the Aeropark. Exhibits include:On 20 February 1969, Vickers Viscount G-AODG of British Midland Airways was damaged beyond economic repair when it landed short of the runway. There were no casualties.
On 31 January 1986, Aer Lingus Flight 328, a Short 360, en route from Dublin, struck power lines and crashed short of the runway. None of the 36 passengers and crew died but two passengers were injured in the accident.
On 18 January 1987, Fokker F-27 G-BMAU of British Midland Airways crashed on approach to the airport on a training flight with three crew. None was killed or injured.
On 8 January 1989, British Midland Flight BD092 crashed on approach to East Midlands Airport, killing 47 people. The Boeing 737 aircraft had developed a fan blade failure in one of the two engines while en route from London Heathrow to Belfast and a decision was made to divert to East Midlands. The crew mistakenly shut down the functioning engine, causing the aircraft to lose power and crash on the embankment of the M1 Motorway just short of the runway. No one on the ground was injured despite the aircraft crashing on the embankment of one of the busiest sections of motorway in the UK. The investigation into the Kegworth air disaster, as the incident became known, led to considerable improvements in aircraft safety and emergency instructions for passengers. The official report into the disaster made 31 safety recommendations.
On 29 October 2010, in the 2010 cargo plane bomb plot, British police searched a UPS plane at East Midlands Airport but found nothing. Later that day, when a package was found on a plane in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates, British officials searched again and found a bomb. The two packages, found on two planes originating in Yemen, contained the powerful high explosive PETN. The U.K. and the U.S. determined that the plan was to detonate them while in flight. Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took responsibility.
On 29 April 2014 An Air Contractors Boeing 737-400 freighter, registration EI-STD performing freight flight QY-1748 from Paris-Charles de Gaulle to East Midlands with 2 crew and 10 tonnes of freight, had safely landed on East Midland's runway 27 and slowed to taxi speed. While attempting to turn off the runway parts of the left main landing gear collapsed disabling the aircraft on the runway. There were no injuries but the runway needed to be closed for most of the day.
On 14 January 2016, an RVL Aviation Cessna 402 declared an emergency and crash landed with three crew on board, two of whom were students. The aircraft landed safely on East Midlands' runway 27, but the port-side gear pin had snapped resulting to the gear folding up whilst on the ground, and subsequently damaging the propellers and engine. There were no injuries, however the airfield remained closed for two hours.