East Midlands Airport

East Midlands Airport (IATA: EMA, ICAO: EGNX) is an international airport in the East Midlands of England, close to Castle Donington in northwestern Leicestershire, between Loughborough (10 miles (16 km)), Derby (12.5 miles (20 km)) and Nottingham (14 miles (23 km)); Leicester is (20 miles (32 km)) to the south and Lincoln (43 miles (69 km)) northeast. It serves the whole East Midlands region of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Rutland and Derbyshire. The airfield was originally built as a Royal Air Force station known as RAF Castle Donington in 1943, before being redeveloped as a civilian airport in 1965.

East Midlands Airport
MAG East Midlands Airport logo.svg
East Midlands2.JPG
Airport typePublic
Owner/OperatorManchester Airport Holdings
ServesEast Midlands
LocationCastle Donington, Leicestershire, England, UK
Hub for
Focus city for
Elevation AMSL306 ft / 93 m
Coordinates52°50′N 001°20′W / 52.833°N 1.333°W / 52.833; -1.333
EGNX is located in Leicestershire
Location in Leicestershire
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 2,893 9,491 Asphalt
Statistics (2022)
Passenger change 21-22Increase283%
Aircraft movements46,730
Movements change 21-22Increase32%
Sources: UK AIP at NATS[3]
Statistics from the UK Civil Aviation Authority[4]

East Midlands Airport has established itself as a hub for low-fare airlines such as Jet2.com and Ryanair and tour operators like TUI Airways, which serve a range of domestic and European short-haul destinations. Passenger numbers peaked in 2008 at 5.6 million but declined to around 4.5 million in 2015, making it the 11th-busiest airport in the UK by passenger traffic. A central air cargo hub, it was the second-busiest UK airport for freight traffic in 2016, after London Heathrow.[4]

The airport is owned by the Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the largest British-owned airport operator, which is controlled by the ten metropolitan borough councils of Greater Manchester, with Manchester City Council retaining the controlling stake.[5]


RAF Castle DoningtonEdit

RAF Castle Donington was opened as a Royal Air Force station in 1943, during the Second World War. The airfield was equipped with three concrete runways, together with two hangars, and was a satellite airfield to RAF Wymeswold, situated some 9 miles (14 km) to the southeast. Initially, the airfield was used by the 28 Operational Training Unit, training RAF Bomber Command crews on the Vickers Wellington, and subsequently by the 108 Operational Training Unit, later renamed 1382 Transport Conversion Unit, training RAF Transport Command crews on the Douglas Dakota. The airfield closed and the air force station was decommissioned in 1946.[6][7][8]

East Midlands AirportEdit

Britannia Airways Boeing 737 operating holiday charters in 1982

A group of local government agencies bought the former RAF station site in 1964, at which point a sizable construction and runway investment program was launched. The airfield was renamed East Midlands Airport to reflect the area it served, and it opened for passengers in April 1965.[6][7]

Until 1982, when the head office moved to Donington Hall,[9] British Midland had its head office on the airport property.[10] BMI also had its maintenance base at the airport.

Go Fly established a hub in 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.[citation needed]

In 1993 National Express purchased the airport from the local councils.[11] With Bournemouth Airport, it was sold to Manchester Airports Group in February 2001.[12][13] In 2004 the airport was controversially renamed Nottingham East Midlands Airport.[14] The change, however, did not last long, and on 8 December 2006, the airport's name was reverted to East Midlands Airport.[15]

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.[citation needed] Following increasing overcrowding at the terminal building, the airport facilities were 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.[citation needed]

EasyJet ceased operating from the airport on 5 January 2010.[16] 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 close 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.[17] 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 the summer of 2013. In 2015, the airport announced jet2.com would base a seventh aircraft at East Midlands Airport in the summer period. Monarch Airlines shut down its base in East Midlands as well by the spring of 2015.[citation needed] Ryanair expanded its East Midlands base with a series of new routes and frequency increases on existing routes. It now serves the airport with 9 based aircraft, 41 destinations, over 320 weekly flights and roughly 2.3 million passengers a year[citation needed], 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 2016 Heathrow handled 1.54 million tonnes of freight and mail, compared with 300,100 tonnes in East Midlands.[4] DHL Aviation has a large purpose-built facility at EMA, and courier companies United Parcel Service (UPS) and TNT use the airport as a base to import and export freight.

On 4 March 2020 Flybe entered administration,[18] with EMA announcing that all flights were cancelled with immediate effect, the following day.[19]

In the summer of 2020, Aer Lingus announced they would commence flights to Belfast, operated by Stobart Air, taking over the route which was once operated by Flybe,[20] until their collapse in early 2020. In June 2021, Stobart Air collapsed, ceasing the route. Later in the month, easyJet announced they would take over the Belfast route, operating frequent flights to Belfast International Airport.[21] This was the first easyJet route announced from East Midlands since they stopped services from the airport in January 2010.

Airlines and destinationsEdit


The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights to and from East Midlands:[22]

Aer Lingus Belfast–City
Aurigny Seasonal: Guernsey
BH Air Seasonal: Burgas
Blue Islands Jersey
Eastern Airways Newquay, Paris–Orly
Jet2.com Alicante, Antalya, Faro, Fuerteventura, Funchal, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Málaga, Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Bodrum, Burgas, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Geneva, Girona, Heraklion, Ibiza, Izmir, Jersey,[23] Kefalonia, Kos, Kraków (begins 9 November 2023),[24] Larnaca, Malta,[25] Menorca, Naples (begins 24 May 2024),[26] Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Prague,[27] Reus, Reykjavík–Keflavík, Rhodes, Salzburg, Santorini,[28] Skiathos, Verona, Zakynthos
Seasonal charter: Sofia
Ryanair Alicante, Barcelona, Belfast–International,[29] Bergamo, Berlin, Budapest, Cork,[30] Dublin, Faro, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Knock, Kraków, Lanzarote, Limoges, Málaga, Malta,[31] Prague (begins 30 October 2023),[31] Riga, Rome–Ciampino,[31] Rzeszów, Tenerife–South, Wrocław
Seasonal: Bergerac, Carcassonne, Chania, Corfu, Girona,[31] Marseille,[32] Menorca, Murcia, Palma de Mallorca, Pisa, Reus, Rhodes, Treviso, Valencia
TUI Airways Alicante, Gran Canaria (begins 2 October 2023),[33] Hurghada, Lanzarote, Málaga, Sal (begins 4 November 2023),[34] Sharm El Sheikh,[35] Tenerife–South
Seasonal: Antalya,[35] Chambéry, Corfu, Dalaman, Dubrovnik, Enfidha, Faro, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kefalonia, Kittilä, Kos, Larnaca, Menorca, Naples, Palma de Mallorca, Paphos, Rhodes, Salzburg, Santorini, Skiathos, Turin (begins 24 December 2023),[36] Zakynthos


East Midlands Airport is a major hub for freight operations throughout Europe due to its central location within the United Kingdom. The East Midlands Gateway rail-served inland port lies immediately to the north of the airport. The airport serves as a hub for DHL Aviation[1] and UPS Airlines[2] and sees flights by several of their sub-contractors to domestic, European and intercontinental destinations.

Cargo operations at the airport increased significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic - cargo aircraft movements increasing by 10% in the first week following the implementation of social distancing measures on 16 March 2020[37] and overall annual freight and mail increasing by 13% from 2019 to 2020.[38] Further growth was seen throughout 2021 and 2022.[38][39]


The air traffic control tower at East Midlands airport, located at the south of the airfield, next to the terminal.
The terminal buildings in 2009.
The check-in hall at the airport.
Annual passenger traffic at EMA airport. See Wikidata query.
Busiest routes to and from East Midlands (2022)[40]
Rank Airport Total
Airline(s) Change
2021 / 22
1   Alicante 309,549 Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI   289.6%
2   Tenerife–South 274,514 Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI   277.2%
3   Palma de Mallorca 257,701 Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI   280.5%
4   Málaga 245,052 Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI   315.5%
5   Faro 221,169 Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI   322.3%
6   Lanzarote 173,831 Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI   275.7%
7   Dublin 136,552 Ryanair   401.2%
8   Barcelona 71,950 Ryanair   321.7%
9   Dalaman 63,947 Jet2.com, TUI   1,235.3%
10   Fuerteventura 60,722 Jet2.com, Ryanair   239.3%

Ground transportEdit


The airport has excellent connections to the motorway network, as it is near the intersection of the M1, A42 and A50 at Donington Park, bringing the airfield within easy reach of the major population centres of the Midlands. The A46 is also within reach for journeys to the rest of the East Midlands.

Drop-off feesEdit

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. Now for drop off it is £5 for the first 10 minutes and a £1 for every minute after. Drivers needing longer can stay free for one hour in the long-term carpark, a five-minute bus ride from the terminal. The short-term parking is closer but charges £3.50 for 30 minutes.[41][42]


The airport has no direct access to the passenger rail network or the Nottingham Express Transit tram network.[43] The nearest railway station is East Midlands Parkway, four miles (six kilometres) away, with regular services to Leicester, Derby, Sheffield, Lincoln, Nottingham and London St Pancras. The original shuttle bus service linking the station and the airport ceased not long after it was introduced,[44] but in 2015 an hourly minibus service was reintroduced by Elite Cars, restoring scheduled shuttle services to and from the airport.[45] Connections to the airport via taxi are also available.

A dedicated railway station at the airport is proposed, which would be connected to the existing network via a spur from the Midland main line. If the project goes ahead, it is expected to be complete by 2040 and will offer direct services to nearby cities as well as the existing East Midlands Parkway railway station and the proposed East Midlands Hub at Toton, which lies on the High Speed Two route. A new line to the airport on the Nottingham Express Transit network is also proposed, planned to be open by 2045.[46]

A 700-acre (280 ha) railfreight terminal, East Midlands Gateway, opened on the SEGRO Logistics Park to the north of the airport in 2020, [47] so that the site is now served by air, road and rail cargo. As of December 2021, this was handling 10,000 shipping containers, with trains to ports including Felixstowe, London Gateway, Southampton and Liverpool. [48]


East Midlands Airport is served 24/7 by Skylink services which are operated by Kinchbus and trentbarton alongside My15 and Airline9 buses.[49]

As of May 2022 the airport is served by the services listed.

Service Operator Route
Skylink Leicester-Derby Kinchbus Leicester (Causeway Lane) - Birstall - Loughborough - Kegworth or Long Whatton/Diseworth - East Midlands Airport - Castle Donington - Shardlow - Alvaston - Derby[50]
Skylink Nottingham trentbarton Nottingham - Queens Medical Centre - Long Eaton- Castle Donington - East Midlands Airport 1 journey an hour then continues to Coalville via Shepshed during the daytime
Skylink Express Nottingham - Trent Bridge- Clifton - East Midlands Airport [51]
My15 Ilkeston- Long Eaton- East Midlands Airport [52]
Airline9 Diamond East Midlands Burton-upon-Trent - Swadlincote - East Midlands Airport [53]

The airport also has a car park shuttle bus service, which is presently run by First Group.

East Midlands AeroparkEdit

The Aeropark at East Midlands Airport

The East Midlands Aeropark to the north west corner of the airport has a large number of static aircraft on public display, the majority of which are from British manufacturers. 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:[54]

Other facilitiesEdit

Pegasus Business Park, an office complex, is on the airport grounds. The now-defunct airline flybmi formerly had its head office at Pegasus Business Park.[55]

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • 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.[56]
  • 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.[57]
  • On 18 January 1987, a British Midland Fokker F27 Friendship, on a training flight, crashed on approach to East Midlands Airport due to wing and tail surface icing. There were no fatalities.[58]
  • On 8 January 1989, British Midland Flight 92 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 and no vehicles were damaged 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.[59] 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.[60] 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.[61]


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External linksEdit

  Media related to East Midlands Airport at Wikimedia Commons