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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Trade and Communications


By Iain Hutchison

Airport passengers Post-Second World War air services from Glasgow's airport at Renfrew were dominated by British European Airways (BEA) which had been granted a monopoly by the 1946 Civil Aviation Act. Independent airlines did eventually gain concessions and by the 1960s Glasgow was also served by several other scheduled airlines such as British Eagle and British United. In the 1950s there was gradual growth in demand for foreign holidays, initially catered for by companies such as Sabena Belgian World Airlines to Ostend and increasingly by charter airlines serving the package tour market to Spanish destinations.

Glasgow Airport As aircraft became larger, and piston engines gave way to turbine and jet engines, Renfrew Airport was increasingly disadvantaged because of its limited runway length. Glasgow Airport moved to the former Royal Air Force and Royal Navy airfield at Abbotsinch on 2 May 1966 where a new terminal had been built to a design by Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson. This enabled the city's airport to cater for scheduled services to European destinations and handle the jet aircraft of companies flying for inclusive tour operators such as Britannia Airways, Caledonian Airways and Dan-Air.

Glasgow Airport Until 1990, Prestwick Airport in Ayrshire was designated as Scotland's sole trans-Atlantic gateway. With the loss of this status, Northwest Airlines of USA and Air Canada transferred their North American scheduled flights to Glasgow Airport, while new services were launched by American Airlines in 1991. This prompted extensive expansion of the Glasgow terminal and apron facilities. Charter company Air 2000, the first airline to challenge the Prestwick sole gateway status, was one of several such companies to offer additional services to North America.

In 1995 EasyJet was the first of a new era of low cost, no frills airlines to serve Glasgow, initially with services to London Luton and opening a new market to budget conscious leisure and business travellers. British Airways, created by the merger of BEA and British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) in 1974, remained a prominent operator at Glasgow, not least by its creation during the 1990s of franchise agreements with several airlines, including Glasgow-based Loganair established in 1962 and serving an extensive Scottish domestic network.

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