Norwich Airport (IATA: NWI, ICAO: EGSH), until early 2017 Norwich International Airport, is a minor international airport in the City of Norwich within Norfolk, England 2.8 NM (5.2 km; 3.2 mi) north of the city centre and on the edge of the city's suburbs at Hellesdon. In 2014 Norwich airport was the 29th busiest airport in the UK and busiest in the East Anglia region.
Norwich Airport has a CAA Public Use Aerodrome Licence (Number P723) that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction. Along with a long history of flights to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol via KLM Cityhopper (formerly KLM UK), it offers flights to various destinations in the United Kingdom and Europe. Besides the commercial flights, charter operators also operate out of Norwich. Bristow Helicopters, DanCopter and Bond Offshore Helicopters fly crews to North Sea gas rigs and SaxonAir operates executive, private aircraft and helicopter charter flights.
The first Norwich airport was set up on a former First World War aerodrome on Mousehold Heath under what is now the Heartsease housing estate. This fell into disuse in the early part of the Second World War.
The current site, formerly known as Royal Air Force Station Horsham St Faith, or more commonly RAF Horsham St Faith, was first developed in 1939 and officially opened on 1 June 1940 as a Royal Air Force (RAF) bomber station. In September 1942 Horsham St. Faith was made available to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) for use by the Eighth Air Force. The USAAF designated the airfield as Station 123 (HF).
The airfield was transferred to RAF Fighter Command on 10 July 1945 when it was occupied by four Gloster Meteor Squadrons. RAF Horsham St. Faith was a front-line RAF station for many years, and its squadrons participated in many post-war exercises. The station was deactivated on 1 August 1963.
The RAF left Horsham on 24 March 1967. Over the following two years the major part of the airfield and buildings were sold to Norwich City and Norfolk County Council, a small part being retained by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Norwich Airport Ltd., under ownership of the county and city councils, developed the modern day Norwich International Airport, with the main terminal opening in 1988.
Most of the World War II buildings used by the USAAF remain, although converted for a variety of purposes. Two of the five large pre-war hangars are still being used for aircraft maintenance. One of the other three is due to be converted into an aviation academy, due to open late 2016, the remaining two have been converted for commercial use. The original control tower still exists although the top has been restored and a new tower has been built adjacent to the present main runway. Other wartime buildings now form part of the airport industrial estate (owned by the county and city councils) and are intermingled with many newer structures. Adjacent to the airport terminal building opened by the Queen Mother, there is a memorial display relating to the USAAF, consisting of photographs, paintings, and a plaque commemorating the American use of the airfield. Firside Junior School's Year 6 class refurbished the memorial in July 2014, in partnership with the Eighth in the East group.
The former RAF accommodation blocks situated towards Old Catton were until 1993 used by the University of East Anglia as accommodation for students; known to students as "Fifers Lane" halls, these have since been demolished and the site redeveloped as housing. The remaining MoD property—airmen's married quarters—continued to be used for nearby RAF stations, but due to the closure of these stations, the housing has been sold to private buyers.
Whilst most runways and taxiways from the military airfield remain, only one runway is primarily used, to avoid takeoffs and landings over built-up areas: east–west Runway 09/27, which was extended eastwards by the RAF in 1956. The old 04/22 runway is no longer used for takeoffs or landings, but is used for parking and taxiing of larger aircraft.
In March 2004, the city and county councils sold 80.1% of Norwich Airport Ltd. to Omniport whilst retaining the remaining 19.9%. Omniport has also acquired 100% of Norwich Airport Travel Ltd. Since the sale to Omniport the airport has become one of the UK hubs for budget airline Flybe and the number of flights and destinations served have rapidly increased. In 2005 a £3.5M terminal expansion programme began.
In 2009, during filming of the BBC show Top Gear, operations from the airport appeared to be disrupted when a caravan, adapted into an airship and flown by James May, drifted overhead the airport, infringing its controlled airspace. In reality, the event occurred after much pre-planning between the airport authorities and the BBC; and scenes showing the airship in the airfield boundary were actually filmed after it had lifted off from the airfield to satisfy the requirements of the film crew.
In 2007, the airport introduced its Airport Development Fee (ADF). All passengers departing from the airport pay a fee of £10. The airport was sold by the majority stakeholders of Omniport to the Rigby Group PLC in 2014.
Norwich International Airport announced in 2015 that four new routes were being considered for Department for Transport (DfT) funding. The routes being considered included: Dublin Airport (Flybe, double daily return weekdays, single return weekends), Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (Flybe, daily return), Newcastle Airport (Links Air, double daily weekday return), and Exeter Airport (Flybe, daily return). Links Air proposed a start date of 1 September 2016, but the airline was put into liquidation. In November 2015 it was announced that bids for routes to Newcastle and Exeter had been successful, with the inaugural flight to the latter on 24 March 2016, operated by Flybe. Flybe also confirmed plans to operate summer sun and winter ski routes from Norwich airport as part of a 5-year deal with the Regional & City Airports (RCA) group. From summer 2016, one of Flybe's 118-seat Embraer 195 aircraft will operate multi-weekly flights from Norwich to Alicante and Málaga. In addition, with effect from its Winter 2016 programme Flybe will also introduce Geneva as a new route from Norwich.
The airport has one runway (designated 09/27), 1,841 m (6,040 ft) in length. A smaller 1,285 m (4,216 ft) runway (designated 04/22) was closed in 2006, and is now used as a taxiway. The airport has nine parking stands for commercial aircraft.
Operators based at Norwich are CHC Scotia, Babcock MCS Offshore, Bristow Helicopters, NHV Helicopters, SaxonAir Charter & SaxonAir Flight Support and the East Anglian Air Ambulance. Former operators include Air Anglia and (from 1980) their successor Air UK.On 12 December 1973 a Dassault Falcon 20 of Fred. Olsen Airtransport suffered a bird strike on takeoff from Runway 27. Both engines failed and the aircraft made an emergency landing in a field. All three crew members were injured, the passengers sustained no injuries. The aircraft was written off.
On 25 October 1974 a Cessna 310 dived into the ground while on final approach, killing the pilot. The Cessna's nose pitched down and the wings rolled over; the loss of control was caused by the uncommanded retraction of the starboard flap, caused by the failure of the drive mechanism.
KonectBus operates a Park and Ride service from a stop a 2-minute walk from the terminal, connecting the airport with Norwich city centre, six days a week (excluding Sundays) every 10–20 minutes. The first bus departs Norwich Airport at 06:35 and the last at 19:05.
Norwich International Airport is situated adjacent to the A140 road, Cromer Road, which runs from Ipswich to Norwich and on to the seaside town of Cromer; this also provides easy road access to Norwich city centre. The entrance to the airport is at the intersection of Amsterdam Way and Cromer Road. The Norwich Northern Distributor Road will link the airport to the A47 road, Great Yarmouth and Fakenham (as well as Norwich itself), reducing the need to use the congested outer ring road and providing faster and better connections to other parts of the county and country. Part of this road will sever the end of the disused Runway 28 as it snakes its way up to the A1067 Fakenham Road.
Norwich Airport does not have a railway station; the nearest is Norwich railway station approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) away.