Gibraltar International Airport

Gibraltar International Airport or North Front Airport (IATA: GIB, ICAO: LXGB) is the civilian airport that serves the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The runway is owned by the Ministry of Defence for use by the Royal Air Force as RAF Gibraltar. Civilian operators use the civilian-operated terminal. National Air Traffic Services hold the contract for provision of air navigation services at the airport.

Gibraltar International Airport
Gibraltar International Airport Logo.png
Gibraltar Airport New Terminal.jpg
Airport typeMilitary/Public
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorGovernment of Gibraltar
ServesGibraltar (UK) and Campo de Gibraltar (Spain)[1]
Elevation AMSL15 ft / 5 m
Coordinates36°09′04″N 005°20′59″W / 36.15111°N 5.34972°W / 36.15111; -5.34972Coordinates: 36°09′04″N 005°20′59″W / 36.15111°N 5.34972°W / 36.15111; -5.34972
GIB is located in Gibraltar
Location of airport in Gibraltar
GIB is located in Europe
GIB (Europe)
Direction Length Surface
m ft
09/27 1,776 5,827 Asphalt
Statistics (2017)
Passenger change 16–17Increase4.2%
Aircraft movements4,888
Movements change 16–17Decrease-1.4%
Source: WAD[2]

In 2017, the airport handled 571,184 passengers and 302,094 kg of cargo on 4,888 total flights.[3] Winston Churchill Avenue (the main road heading towards the land border with Spain) intersects the airport runway, and consequently has to be closed every time a plane lands or departs. The History Channel programme Most Extreme Airports ranked the airport the fifth most extreme airport in the world, ahead of the now-defunct Kai Tak Airport with its infamous right-hand turn approach over central Hong Kong before landing, but behind Princess Juliana International Airport, famous for its low-altitude approaches over a public beach.[4] It is exposed to strong cross winds around the rock and across the Bay of Gibraltar, making landings in winter particularly challenging.

Monarch Airlines was the largest operator at Gibraltar, operating flights to Birmingham, London Gatwick, London Luton, and Manchester.[5] Monarch entered administration at 4:30am on 2 October 2017, ceasing operations with immediate effect[6] around a year after rumours of its imminent demise became widespread. As of 2021 EasyJet is the largest airline operator, with the airport also being served by British Airways.

Although located in Gibraltar, the airport is also used by people travelling to or from neighbouring parts of southern Spain such as the Costa del Sol or the Campo de Gibraltar.


A bulldozer and steamroller being used during the construction of a new aerodrome on Gibraltar, November 1941
Winston Churchill Avenue crossing the runway with the rock in the background
Runway overview


The airport was constructed during World War II upon the territory's race course (introduced by the Maltese), when Gibraltar was an important naval base for the British. Opened in 1939, it was only an emergency airfield for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. However, the runway was later extended by reclaiming some land from the Bay of Gibraltar using rock blasted from the Rock of Gibraltar while carrying out works on military tunnels.[citation needed] This last major extension of the runway allowed larger aircraft to land at Gibraltar.[citation needed]

Business development since the 2000sEdit

On 3 November 2003, Monarch announced a new route from Gibraltar to Manchester Airport.[7] It was the first route from Gibraltar to operate to the North of England. However, on 19 July 2006, Monarch withdrew the route due to the cost. On 21 April 2008, Monarch announced it would resume the services to Manchester from 12 September 2008. The route operated three to five times a week: every Monday, Wednesday and Friday in winter season, as well as on Thursdays and Sundays in the summer season.

By late 2005 and early 2006, the implementation of a new agreement was one of the main topics of the Gibraltar Trilateral Forum being held between the Governments of Gibraltar, Spain and the United Kingdom. As a result, the Córdoba Accord was signed on 18 September 2006 by all parties. This ended all discriminatory restrictions on civilian flights to Gibraltar International, including the prohibition of flights over Spanish soil, and exclusion of Gibraltar from all EU agreements on air transport, allowing civilian flights from all nations into Gibraltar International.[8]

On 17 November 2006 Iberia announced that it would start flights from Madrid to Gibraltar using an Airbus A319 aircraft. This was a landmark move as no Spanish airline had flown to Gibraltar since 1979, because of its disputed status. Iberia began flights to Gibraltar International on 16 December 2006 with a flight from Madrid that included some members of the Spanish Government on board. GB Airways flew a one-off flight in the other direction with a group of children from the Gibraltar area making up the passengers. In May 2007 GB Airways (flying as a British Airways franchisee) also began operating the route between Madrid and Gibraltar, however, this was discontinued on 30 September, leaving Iberia to work the route alone. On 22 September 2008 Iberia announced that it would cease its flights to Madrid by 28 September due to "economic reasons", namely, lack of demand. This left Gibraltar, once again, without any air links with Spain.[9]

In April 2009, Ándalus Líneas Aéreas restored Gibraltar's air link with the Spanish capital.[10] In July 2009 Ándalus also began scheduled flights to Barcelona, increasing the destinations in Spain to two.[11] However, the airline ceased to serve this route in September 2009 due to a lack of demand.[12] In April 2010, it was confirmed that Ándalus flights to and from Gibraltar had been indefinitely suspended.[13] And now yet again, Gibraltar has no direct air links to Spain. Ándalus Líneas Aéreas ceased operations on 13 August 2010.

In 2009, British Airways moved its flights from Gatwick to its main base at London Heathrow.

From 2011 until October 2012, easyJet offered thrice-weekly service from Gibraltar to Liverpool, but it was eventually cancelled due to lack of demand.

On 18 May 2011, Bmibaby announced that it would launch flights from Gibraltar to East Midlands from 31 March 2012. This was the first time that an airline has operated that route. The route operated on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, using a Boeing 737-300. However, on 3 May 2012 it was announced that Bmibaby was to be closed by the International Airlines Group after the group failed to find a buyer for the airline. Bmibaby operated its last service to Gibraltar on 8 September 2012 and the airline operated its last flight the following day.

On 10 January 2012, Gibraltar was selected as one of the 'World's Scariest Airport Landings and Take-offs' in the travel section of the Daily Telegraph due to its runway which extends into the sea.[14]

On 14 August 2012, Monarch announced it would launch a new route to Birmingham, operating three times a week; every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The route began on 23 March 2013 but changed to running on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.[15]

In the summer of 2014 services between Gibraltar and Marrakech were operated by Royal Air Maroc Express on behalf of a local travel company, Your Flight.[16] However, the services, which were operated on a charter basis, and could not be booked via global distribution system channels or on a connection basis, terminated after just three months due to insufficient demand.[17]

In November 2014, easyJet announced that it would begin a new route to Bristol Airport which commenced on 19 April 2015.[18]

Royal Air Maroc announced in November 2014 that after many years, it would restore the short intercontinental air connection between Gibraltar and Tangier in March 2015 on a twice weekly basis. Unlike the previous Marrakech flights these would be operated by RAM for themselves, and offer connecting flights to their Casablanca hub and onwards, and be available via normal sales channels.[19]

Overnight work to resurface the runway started on the evening of September 4, 2015, and the work was completed in January 2016.

In November 2015, easyJet announced that it would begin a new route to Manchester Airport twice weekly, making this the first time two airlines have competed against each other on the Manchester-Gibraltar route. The new route commenced on 3 July 2016. During the same month, Monarch announced a new route from Gibraltar to London Gatwick, beginning on 1 May running four times a week.[20]

On 2 October 2017, the CAA confirmed that Monarch Airlines had ceased operations with immediate effect and had entered administration. All flights were cancelled. Monarch operated about a third of the airports movements prior to shutting down.

On 12 July 2018, easyJet announced a twice-weekly new route to London-Luton restoring the link between the two airports. The restored route started in December 2018.[21]

On 11 December 2019, easyJet announced a new twice-weekly service to Edinburgh, making it the first time that Gibraltar has had a direct link to Scotland. The route was due to start on 31 March 2020[22] however due to the COVID-19 pandemic the route finally commenced on 5 June 2021 after several reschedulings. EasyJet resumed services from Manchester on 20 July, Gatwick on 25 July, and Bristol on 4 August. The airlines service to Luton was axed as a result of the pandemic and increased competition from Wizz Air who began serving the route in December 2020.

In October 2020, Hélity announced a new route to Málaga beginning 30 October with flights operating three times a week on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.[23]

On 4 February 2021, Eastern Airways announced two new routes to Southampton and Birmingham from 24 and 28 May. This marked the first time that Eastern Airways were to operate scheduled flights from the Airport, as well as the first ever route to Southampton and the resumption of the Birmingham service that was lost after Monarch's collapse in October 2017.[24]

Panoramic photograph of Gibraltar International Airport in 2007, with time-lapse showing an aircraft take off.

Disputes regarding territory's statusEdit

The airport is located on the isthmus that connects Gibraltar with the rest of the Iberian Peninsula. Whether or not the airport's territory was ceded by the Treaty of Utrecht is disputed by Spain and Britain.[25] In the spring of 1815, Spain claims an epidemic of yellow fever struck Gibraltar, so that the British authorities built several barracks as field isolation in the neutral zone. On 20 April 1815 Lt. Governor of Gibraltar, George Don agreed with the general commander of the Campo de Gibraltar, General Don José María de Alós, that "a large proportion of the inhabitants [of Gibraltar] to [..] not [have] they suffered fever, temporarily established on the neutral ground, as close as circumstances permit, in front of this fortress".[citation needed]

Spain's continuing sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom over the territory on which the airport stands (different from the generic one on Gibraltar itself) has seriously affected the airport's operations. On 2 December 1987, an agreement was signed between the governments of the United Kingdom and Spain to allow the joint civil use of the airport.[26] The agreement foresaw the building of a new terminal in the neighbouring Spanish municipality of La Línea de la Concepción adjacent to the northern side of the existing frontier. However, the agreement was blocked by the Government of Gibraltar, led from 1988 by Joe Bossano. As a result, the agreement was never implemented.

Since then, Spain successfully excluded Gibraltar from European-wide de-regulation initiatives, such as the Single European Sky programme preventing direct links from Gibraltar to the European Union, on the grounds that no regulation that somehow recognises the sovereignty of the United Kingdom over the Gibraltar peninsula may be implemented without a previous agreement on the airport.


New airport nearing completion in 2011

There is one terminal at Gibraltar International.[27]

Old terminalEdit

The old terminal at the airport was built in 1959 and refurbished in the late 1990s. For many years, it had been too small to cope with the number of passengers when two flights were scheduled to arrive/depart within a short space of time. The size of the terminal was 20,000 m2 (220,000 sq ft), and had 10 check-in desks, one baggage carousel, one security gate and two departure gates. On 26 November 2011, arriving flights switched to the new terminal as the first phase of the new terminal opened. On 25 September 2012, the old terminal closed its doors as flight departures moved into the new terminal on 26 September 2012. The last flight to use it was easyJet flight EZY8904 to London-Gatwick. The old terminal building was demolished in February 2014.

New terminalEdit

A new terminal was constructed at Gibraltar International due to increasing numbers of passengers.[28] Planning permission was announced in 2007 with construction of the new terminal beginning in 2009 and completed in 2011. The first phase of the new terminal opened on 26 November 2011 for arriving flights only. The second phase of the new terminal opened on 26 September 2012 when flight departures moved. The first flight to use the first phase was EasyJet flight EZY7295 from Liverpool and the first flight to use the second phase was British Airways flight BA491 to London Heathrow. The terminal's terrace was inaugurated by the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward on 13 June 2012.[29]

The terminal is 35,000 m2 (380,000 sq ft), which is 15,000 m2 (160,000 sq ft) bigger than the old terminal. It has two baggage carousels and three departure gates, none of which are equipped with jet bridges. It has a passenger capacity of up to 1.5 million passengers per year. Retail services are also available in the terminal and these include WH Smith, 36 North Bar and Gibraltar Duty Free Stores. A new general aviation area has also been built inside the terminal to handle private aircraft.


New road accessEdit

Security barrier at the intersection of Gibraltar International Airport runway and Winston Churchill Avenue.

The road across the runway is constraining operations at the airport, especially with the increase in operations since the Córdoba Agreement. Prior to this agreement, only three flights operated daily to Gatwick and Luton, and three flights a week to Manchester. On busy days, at present, some seven flights now arrive and depart. If the average time the road is closed for an aircraft to land or depart is ten minutes, then on certain days the road can be closed for over half an hour.[citation needed]

Because of this, a new four-lane diversion road and tunnel section was planned. The new runway tunnel will reduce delays and tailbacks caused by aircraft taking off and landing.[30] Construction of the new road was due to begin in January 2008 and be completed by the beginning of 2009, but as of 2016 it remained incomplete.[5] Although the road across the runway is to remain in place, for exceptional, specific, or emergency use, it will not be available for routine day-to-day use by private vehicular traffic. Pedestrians will not be required to travel via the new road/tunnel, and will continue to cross the runway at the present location. A prolonged litigation between the Government of Gibraltar and contractor OHL over the delay was resolved in June 2016 with an agreement for OHL to complete the works at a price of £24 million and a projected finish date of November 2018.[31] The most recent estimate for completion of the project is the end of the 2022.[32]

A new dual-carriageway is also being built. It will pass under the new terminal and towards the eastern edge of the runway at which point it will pass through a tunnel under it and connect via a roundabout with Devil's Tower Road on the opposite side of the runway. After the road tunnel on the north side of the runway the new road will run parallel to the frontier, passing under the air terminal fly-over section. The road will then branch into two, with one road leading to the loop and the frontier, and another leading to the Air Terminal, North Front and Winston Churchill Avenue.[33]

New car parksEdit

A number of car parks are being built at Gibraltar International during its expansion, including a new 220-space, three-story car park located at the east of the new terminal. Another new car park is to be built by Eastern Beach, and two multi-storey facilities will also be built on Devil's Tower Road.[33]

Airlines and destinationsEdit

The following airlines operate regular scheduled and charter flights at Gibraltar Airport:

British Airways London–Heathrow
easyJet Bristol, London–Gatwick, Manchester
Seasonal: Edinburgh[34]


Passengers Aircraft movements Cargo (tonnes)
2008 378,603 3,958 624
2009 371,231 4,290 313
2010 305,325 3,346 296
2011 383,013 3,628 292
2012 387,219 3,490 314
2013 383,876 3,564 352
2014 415,103 3,730 384
2015 444,336 4,100 408
2016 548,230 4,968 404
2017 571,184 4,888 302
2018 440,998 3,868 192
2019 491,405 4,382 203
Source: Gibraltar Airport Statistics[35]
Busiest routes from Gibraltar to the UK (2020)[36]
Rank Airport Total
2019 / 20
1 London–Heathrow 87,632   46%
2 London-Gatwick 45,779   76%
3 Manchester 24,796   51%
4 Bristol 17,335   65%
5 London-Luton 6,979   73%

Accidents and incidentsEdit

  • On 4 July 1943, a B-24 Liberator crashed into the sea 16 seconds after taking off from Gibraltar Airport at 23:07 hours, killing all 11 passengers and 5 of the 6 crew. Among the passengers was Lt. Gen. Władysław Sikorski, commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile, who had been inspecting Polish forces in the Middle East during World War II. A British inquiry ruled the crash an accident, concluding that the plane's controls had jammed for an unknown reason. However, several conspiracy theories continue to persist.
  • On 3 August 1983 an English Electric Canberra T.17 (WJ625) of 360 Sqdn crashed into the sea at the eastern end of the runway. The aircraft entered cloud shortly after a three aircraft take off. WJ625 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea after the pilot became disoriented and lost control. All three crew were killed.[37]
  • On 22 May 2002, a Monarch Boeing 757-200 (Registration G-MONC) suffered structural damage to the forward fuselage in the area of the nose landing gear during landing at Gibraltar while operating a flight from Luton. The captain had used an incorrect landing technique, applying full nose-down elevator. This control input resulted in a high pitch-down rate at nose-wheel touchdown, exceeding the design limits, before the aircraft's nose-wheel had touched the ground. There were no injuries.[38]
  • On 17 March 2006, the flight deck crew of a Monarch Boeing 757-200 (Registration G-MONE) lost visual contact with the runway after passing the Visual Decision Point (VDP) while attempting to land at Gibraltar. During the subsequent go-around, the crew did not follow the correct missed approach procedures but air traffic control (ATC) provided effective heading control to avoid striking high ground. The lowest altitude of the aircraft when over land was 2,100 ft (640 m). The highest local ground elevation, just south of the airfield, is 1,420 ft (430 m). Following the incident, ATC and Monarch changed their procedures to reduce the chances of repeating a similar occurrence.[39]
  • On 8 February 2017, a Royal Gibraltar Police vehicle drove onto the runway in a bid to stop an Airbus A400M Atlas plane from taking off.[40] The ensuing stand off between the RGP and MOD caused delays of two hours for anyone crossing the runway via the road crossing. This was due to a serving member of the military on board the RAF aircraft being wanted by the RGP for alleged sex offences.[41] The suspect was eventually removed from the aircraft as well as his personal computer equipment and the plane was allowed to leave two hours later.

In popular cultureEdit

The runway featured in a BBC Top Gear special and was also used by Jaguar in the launch of a new range. A custom painted Boeing 737 was used in conjunction with a fleet of the cars. The airport appeared on Channel 5's series, Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun which was broadcast from June to July 2013.

The airstrip and the Four Corners Border crossing feature at the end of Carol Reed's 1963 production of The Running Man. Several 'takes' were shot as Remick and Harvey chase each other, firstly through the Border and later as the light aircraft took off from the Eastern end of the runway, narrowly missing an RAF Halifax aircraft which was supposed to be taking off too.[42]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Maps". Google Maps. Archived from the original on 6 December 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  2. ^ "GIBRALTAR". World Aero Data. Retrieved 2 March 2020.
  3. ^ "Gibraltar International Airport Traffic Statistics 2017" (PDF). Gibraltar International Airport. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  4. ^ Most Extreme Airports; The History Channel; 26 August 2010.
  5. ^ a b "Family First to Book on Inaugural Flight from Birmingham to Gibraltar Wins a Golden Ticket" (Press release). Monarch Airlines. 25 March 2013. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  6. ^ "Redundancies follow Monarch Airlines collapse with 860,000 customers hit". Sky News. 3 October 2017. Archived from the original on 16 March 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  7. ^ "2008 News Archive – Flights – Monarch Scheduled launches three new routes from Manchester to Barcelona, Gibraltar and Tenerife | Flights News". Monarch Airlines. 3 November 2003. Archived from the original on 5 October 2011.
  8. ^ "Córdoba Tripartite Agreement". Archived from the original on 20 October 2006. Retrieved 22 November 2006.
  9. ^ "Spanish Airline Suspends Flights". Sky News. 22 September 2008. Archived from the original on 15 March 2009. Retrieved 22 September 2008.
  10. ^ Olivia, F (30 April 2009). "Ándalus airlines restores link with Madrid". Gibraltar Chronicle. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011.
  11. ^ "Ándalus signals Barcelona start". Gibraltar Chronicle. 18 June 2009. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012.
  12. ^ "Ándalus pulls Barcelona route". Gibraltar Chronicle. 24 September 2009. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012.
  13. ^ Searle, Dominique (10 April 2019). "Breaking news: Air Andalus Abandons Gib Flights – Report". Gibraltar Chronicle. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012.
  14. ^ "World's Scariest Airport Landings and Take-offs". The Daily Telegraph. London. 10 January 2012. Archived from the original on 18 January 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2012.
  15. ^ "2012 News - Flights - Monarch Launches Birmingham Gibraltar Route" (Press release). Monarch Air. 14 August 2012. Archived from the original on 11 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  16. ^ "Blands Travel - Gibraltar". Blands Travel. 28 January 2014. Archived from the original on 1 May 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Marrakesh flights grounded". Gibraltar Panorama. 7 July 2014. Archived from the original on 26 October 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2015.
  18. ^ "Easyjet launch new direct route from Bristol Airport to Gibraltar". Bristol Post. 4 November 2014. Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Signature d'une convention de partenariat entre RAM et Gibraltar" [Signature of a partnership agreement between RAM and Gibraltar] (Press release) (in French). Royal Air Maroc. 13 November 2014. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 14 November 2014.
  20. ^ "EasyJet to launch new flights to Gibraltar". Travel Mole. 9 December 2015. Archived from the original on 4 October 2017. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  21. ^ "easyJet schedules new routes from the UK in W18". Routesonline.
  22. ^ "easyJet to launch direct flights between Gibraltar and Edinburgh".
  23. ^ "Destinations | Helity".
  24. ^ "Eastern Airways to launch Gibraltar flights".
  25. ^ Duarte, Esteban; Penty, Charles (5 July 2018). "Why Brexit Poses an Existential Issue for Gibraltar". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 13 September 2018. The airport is located on the border and has been long been the subject of competing claims. Spain says the land wasn't ceded under the Utrecht Treaty of 1713
  26. ^ "Joint Civil Use of the Airport". Archived from the original on 12 December 2005. Retrieved 15 August 2004.
  27. ^ "Move of departure operations to New Air Terminal" (PDF) (Press release). Gibraltar Office of the Deputy Chief Minister. 24 September 2012. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 November 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  28. ^ "Gibraltar Airport - Visitors Guide". Gibraltar Airport. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
  29. ^ "Integration of new terminal". Gibraltar Chronicle. 14 June 2012. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012.
  30. ^ "Terminal is just the beginning". The Gibraltar Magazine. Archived from the original on 1 May 2008.
  31. ^ "Agreement between OHL and Gibraltar to conclude the tunnel under Rock's airport". The Diplomat. 21 June 2016. Archived from the original on 28 April 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  32. ^ "Airport tunnel 'likely' to be handed to Government in early September, meaning it could be open to public end of the year or start of 2023". Retrieved 11 September 2022.
  33. ^ a b "New Air Terminal, tunnel under the runway and new road leading to all parts of Gibraltar north of the runway - New Road/Tunnel". Government of Gibraltar. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2016. and images of the proposals: "New Air Terminal, tunnel under the runway and new road leading to all parts of Gibraltar north of the runway - The New Air Terminal" (Press release). Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  34. ^ "Timetable - Gibraltar Airport".
  35. ^ "Gibraltar Airport Statistics". Archived from the original on 15 January 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2013.
  36. ^ "Airport Data 2020". UK Civil Aviation Authority. 24 May 2020. Tables 12.1(XLS) and 12.2 (XLS). Retrieved 27 June 2021.
  37. ^ "ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58798". Aviation Safety Network. Aviation Safety Network.
  38. ^ "Monarch Accident G-MONC". Air Accidents Investigation Branch. 22 May 2002. Archived from the original on 24 November 2007.
  39. ^ "Monarch Accident G-MONE". Air Accidents Investigation Branch. 17 March 2006. Archived from the original on 9 January 2009.
  40. ^ Duggan, Joe (8 February 2017). "'Criminal offence' to blame for huge delays at Gibraltar Airport, source tells Olive Press". The Olive Press (Press release). Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  41. ^ Farmer, Ben (2 March 2017). "Gibraltar arrests three British military officials on suspicion of hindering sex offence investigation". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  42. ^ "Reelstreets | Running Man, The". Retrieved 12 January 2020.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Gibraltar Airport at Wikimedia Commons