Park and Go: Exeter Airport Parking - Airport History

Please find below a brief history of Exeter Airport, we hope that you will find it useful. If you wish to make a booking please use the menu on your right, or you can call us on 08700 27 22 23

The Airport was first opened in May 1937, the terminal building at that time was just a tented area. The first commercial flight to land at Exeter Airport was on coronation day in 1937 when a leopard moth from Air Dispatch landed. This opened the way for a growing number of flights to start operating between the Channel Islands and Exeter Airport. In 1938 Sir Kingsley Wood, who was then Secretary of State for Air, officially opened the airport. At that time the airport was only a 90-acre grass field, the runways maximum length was 870 yards. By 1938 the tented terminal was now a one-storey building with one ninety-foot wide hangar to accompany it, although the height of the hangar doors were a mere 14 feet high. At that time the cost for this project was around ?35,000.

In 1939 Great Western and Southern airlines started operating out of Exeter with daily flights to Bristol, Plymouth, Lands End and the Isles of Scilly. However with the outbreak of war starting shortly after this all flights were suspended. The Airport during the war years was to take on a major new role with the R.A.F sector station headquarters being situated there. Also setting up camp at Exeter Airport was the Polish 307 and 317 Squadrons that were day fighter wings attached to the sector station. Exeter Airport remained until 1947 under R.A.F control before it changed hands and was transferred to the ministry of civil aviation. The management of Exeter Airport was then under a lease from the Ministry of Defence. In 1949 the reserve flying school number 10 was formed, also under contract from the Ministry of Defence

It was not until 1952 that Exeter Airport Ltd attracted the first post war civil airline, which was Jersey Airlines they were shortly followed by by British Westpoint Airlines, Mayflower Air Services, South West Aviation, and Morton Air Services.

The development of schedule services started to grow as appreciation of the service and facilities that Exeter offered were realised by many, also the excellent weather in this region was a major factor. In 1974 Devon county council took over sole owernship of the Airport, 1985 saw Jersey European Airways make Exeter Airport its hub by moving its engineering and administrative headquarters there. On the 15th July 2000 Exeter International Airport was officially renamed this was commemorated by a VIP flight of passengers arriving on board Concorde which had set off from Heathrow.

Today passenger's numbers are on the increase steadily with new routes and Airlines looking to operate and a new terminal is much needed, the Airport is hoping that the private sector will be able to help in its funding. East Devon Council has been given plans for a new terminal to be located on the north side of the airfield Exeter Airport Ltd must now wait and see if those plans are approved.