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80 years ago to the day that Liverpool Airport was officially opened, staff had their own celebrations to mark the occasion, including a visit by a special guest who witnessed the original opening ceremony back in 1933.
As a six year old boy, Jim Keight OBE was present at the airport when The Right Honourable The Marquis of Londonderry, Secretary of State for Air, declared the airport officially open, followed by one of the largest civil air displays seen at the time.
80 years on, Jim (86) from Huyton, Merseyside, returned to Liverpool John Lennon Airport (JLA) yesterday afternoon, having been invited to cut a special birthday cake which incorporated the design from a poster used to promote the opening ceremony and air display in 1933. The cake cutting took place at 3pm, the time the airport was officially declared open 80 years ago.
Jim has had a long standing affection for the Airport and as the former Council leader for Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council he also sat on the Airport Board during the 1980’s and 1990’s when the Merseyside local authorities were involved with the ownership of the Airport.
JLA also received a special birthday message from Yoko Ono which read,
”As you probably know, this year, I am having my 80th birthday too. In Chinese astrology, 8 is the strongest number. So let’s have a good year to start an amazing journey into the magical and mysterious future!
Lots of love, Yoko.”
The Airport rebranded to Liverpool John Lennon Airport in honour of Yoko Ono’s late husband John Lennon, when its new terminal opened in Spring 2002.
Liverpool was one of the UK’s first airports and at the forefront of aviation in the region for many years and there have been many changes over the past 80 years both in terms of levels of business, the location of the terminal building and the runway.
The converted farmhouse that was originally used as the airport terminal, was soon replaced in the late 1930’s by the famous art deco terminal building and control tower. This is now the Crowne Plaza John Lennon Airport Hotel, with the current location for the terminal building becoming operational in the mid-1980’s.
Today, passengers use the multi-million pound terminal that was officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 2002 and which has since undergone further developments to cope with the 4.5 million passengers that now use Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
As part of the 80th birthday celebrations, the Airport has put together a photographic exhibition which has gone on display in the terminal building featuring various milestone events and activities to enable passengers to see for themselves, the changing face of the airport over the years.
Many of the photographs have kindly been provided by airport support group, The Friends of Liverpool Airport (FoLA). Not only have they assisted with the exhibition, they also organised last Sunday’s celebratory flypast by a group of light aircraft from Liverpool Flying School, based at the airport and an airport related open day at the Crowne Plaza John Lennon Airport Hotel.
Robin Tudor, Head of PR and Communications for Liverpool John Lennon Airport, commented, “This airport has come a long way in 80 years and we are all very proud of the airport’s history and the role it has played in the UK’s aviation industry.
When the Airport first opened, flying used to be accessible for a privileged few.
Today, and in particular following the advent of the low cost airlines, air travel is now affordable for far more people. Here at Liverpool we have witnessed this change for ourselves having been at the forefront of low cost airline related travel since the late 1990’s.”
Loganair, Scotland’s Airline, has announced plans to take up the Liverpool to Isle of Man route formerly flown by Flybe. The service will operate between Liverpool and the Isle of Man up to 19 times per week initially, with plans to increase this to three times daily from the end of March.
Explosives detection dogs from police forces across the country have been taking part in a major training exercise at Liverpool John Lennon Airport this week.