Liverpool John Lennon Airport Speke, South Liverpool

Liverpool John Lennon Airport, formerly known as Liverpool (Speke) Airport and renamed after John Lennon in 2002, is located in the south end of the city. The Airport has a wide range of flights to destinations within the United Kingdom, Ireland and mainland Europe. Interlining is available through KLM to destinations around the globe. Airlines operating from the airport include easyJet, Flybe, KLM, Ryanair, Wizz Air and Eastern Airlines.

Using the Airport

Liverpool John Lennon has a single passenger terminal located near to the south end of Speke Hall Avenue. Bus services terminate directly in front of the terminal whereas taxis and private cars have a drop off point on the opposite side of the main terminal road. Short stay parking is available in a new multi-storey car park opposite the terminal, surrounding which is a large long stay car park which extends to the far side of Speke Hall Avenue. The drop off area is free for the first five minutes but costs escalate rapidly and 'meeters and greeters' are advised to use the short stay car park.

Entering the terminal doors, the check-in desks and bag drop area are located to the left (east) end of the terminal and the arrivals area to the right, where there are also some refreshment facilities and a W H Smith.

Departing passengers will travel via the departures entrance at the left end of the terminal and up the escalators to the security area on the third level. Only passengers with boarding passes are allowed beyond the departures entrance. The security area has been recently expanded but passengers in a hurry can by-pass queues by purchasing a fast track ticket.

On leaving security, passengers are required to walk through the duty free shop and then descend to the second level where there is a large waiting and retail area. There is a further walk to the departure gates located at the east and west ends of the terminal. There are few facilities at the gates and so it is advisable to remain in the main departures area until the flight is called.

There are no 'air bridges' at LJLA and so departing passengers will need to take the stairs down to ground level and then walk across the apron to their plane. Buses are provided for aircraft located on remote stands.

Disabled passengers will have access to the 'Ambulift', a vehicle equipped with an enclosed scissor lift that elevates them to aircraft door level.

Arriving passengers will walk or be bussed to the ground floor baggage reclaim area and then ascend to the second level where they will go through customs checks. They will then descend back to ground level and pass through the terminal building to the Arrivals area at the west end of the main concourse.


Recent reconfiguration of the terminal has removed facilities for spectators from the Airport terminal and those wanting to see aircraft must venture outside. Dungeon Lane near the east end of the runway is a traditional popular site for spectators although there are no facilities and car parking is limited. Spectators using this area must be careful to obey airport safety rules. A more comfortable location is the Childe of Hale pub in Hale Village, which has outdoor seating in the summer.

The Speke Hall bund, created to conceal the runway from the Elizabethan manor house, has excellent views over the west end of the runway. Spectators wishing to use this location must, however, buy a ticket for the Hall's gardens or be a National Trust member. However, they will have access to the visitor cafe.


For detailed flight information go to the Airport website http://www.liverpoolairport.com/.

Flights from Liverpool John Lennon Airport are mainly provided by low cost operators Ryanair and EasyJet. Between them, these two operators cover much of Continental Europe and extend to Scandinavia and North Africa. In addition, Wizz Air flies to destinations in Eastern Europe, Eastern Airlines to Southampton and Aberdeen and FlyBe to the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland.

KLM, who returned to the Airport in 2009, have frequent flights to Amsterdam (Schipol) , where they interline to over 650 worldwide destinations.

There are no inclusive tour (package holiday) flights presently from Liverpool although some operators do fly passengers on scheduled low cost services.

For several years, there has not been a scheduled service to London. The last operator to attempt this service, Belgian airline VLM, withdrew their service to London City Airport due to increases in airline passenger duty. Lack of slots at Heathrow has prevented a service to Britain's main airport since the early 1990s.

Getting There

Several transit options are available to and from the airport including by bicycle.

By Car

From the City Centre, take the A561 through Dingle, Aigburth and Garston, pass the old airport terminal (now the Crowne Plaza Hotel) and the Estuary Commerce park on the right and then turn right into Speke Hall Avenue and follow signs to the Airport terminal.

From the M62, take junction 6 onto the A5300 Knowsley Expressway and then turn right onto the A561. Pass the 'Mersey Wave' sculpture and the Land Rover plant on the right and turn left into Speke Hall Avenue.

From the M56, take junction 8 onto the Weston Expressway (signposted Runcorn) and turn left onto the Silver Jubilee Bridge over the Mersey then continue on to the A562 to the A561 (Speke Boulevard) as above.

By Bus

The Airport has several bus services, mainly operated by Arriva.

The 500 is a dedicated service from the city centre including Lime Street station and main hotels.

The 501 is a dedicated service from Liverpool South Parkway Station, taking only ten minutes.

Terravision operate a coach from Manchester departing from Chorlton Street.

By Rail

The Airport's nearest rail station is Liverpool South Parkway which has frequent bus services to the airport. The station has frequent services from Liverpool Lime Street and Liverpool Central and direct connections from Manchester, Warrington, Crewe, Leeds etc. Travellers from the West Coast Main (London) line are advised to change at Runcorn and take a local service to Liverpool South Parkway.


Liverpool Airport was a product of the craze for airport development that gripped Britain's towns and cities in the inter-war years. Following the death of Adelaide Watts, the last private owner of the Speke Hall estate, ownership passed to Liverpool Corporation who saw Speke as an ideal site for airport development. The original Speke Airport was a large levelled grassed area to the other side of Speke Hall from the present airport. The first flight from this new airfield was in 1930 and the first 'terminal' was Chapel House farmhouse.

The airport did not officially open until 1933 but the Corporation then embarked on a building programme that was to produce the most impressive airport buildings in the country, including the Art Deco terminal building and control tower (now the Crowne Plaza Hotel) and two flanking hangars (one is now a sports centre and the other the headquarters of Shop Direct.

Being in the centre of the country, Speke became the centre for the Railway Air Services hub and spoke operations and soon grew to become the second largest airport in Britain (after London Croydon). During World War II, it was the only airport to retain passenger services. Wartime also saw the construction of three concrete runways to cater for the faster and heavier aircraft required to use them. However, requisitioning by the Air Ministry meant that the airport fell into civil service hands and Liverpool Corporation did not regain control of their Airport until 1961, by which time rival Manchester Airport, which had resisted requisition, had grown to become the main airport for the North West.

Liverpool Corporation invested heavily in Speke Airport during the Sixties and built a new runway 09/27 on the far side of Speke Hall. This new runway allowed modern jet aircraft to fly from Liverpool but the expected increase in traffic did not materialise and twenty years were to pass before there was to be any futher significant investment. During this period, air traffic at the airport stagnated whilst Manchester went from strength to strength. There were frequent calls for the closure of the airport and it is believed that the importance of 09/27 to the NATO cold war era War Plan was the main reason that it did not happen.

In 1986, the southern apron was opened alongside 09/27 and this was soon followed by the construction of a new southern terminal. Architecturally, the new terminal was far inferior to the Art Deco masterpiece it replaced but in aviation terms it slashed taxiing distances and made flying from Liverpool far more economic. The former Northern Terminal was to fall into dereliction until saved in 2000 by Neptune Developments who refurbished and extended the building to form the Marriott Hotel Liverpool South (later the Crowne Plaza).

Despite the new terminal, passenger numbers remained static at around half a million per annum for several years. In 1990, the local authority decided to sell the airport and British Aerospace, who were then in a period of property aquisition, took control. The new owners announced ambitious plans for the creation of the largest private sector airport in the world, aiming for an eventual passenger throughput of 40 million per annum. Feasibility studies for the expansion, which would have involved a second runway in the Mersey Estuary, were carried out but plans were scaled back to a more modest 12 million.

The revised plan included much expanded terminal facilities, car parks, hotels etc and cargo facilities on the old Northern Airfield. The main feature was the realignment of runway 09/27, which was to be rotated clockwise about its western end onto an east-west alignment. The purpose of this was to free up space for terminal development, allow for a runway extension and move the flight path from over Hale Village.

The plan went to public inquiry in 1995, which coincided with the inquiry into Manchester Airport's rival plans for the construction of a second runway. At that time, Manchester's passenger throughput at 15 million passengers per annum was some thirty times that at Liverpool and Manchester was to emerge victorious from the 'Battle of the Airports'. Perhaps as a result, in 1996, British Aerospace put the airport up for sale again and the buyers were Isle of Man property group Peel Holdings; Liverpool being their first venture into the aviation industry.

Despite the public inquiry setback, the late 1990s were a good time for Liverpool Airport in terms of passenger numbers and with the arrival of package holiday operator Direct Holidays coupled with a boom in travel to the Isle of Man, steady increases were recorded year on year. The main turning point was the Airport's success in attracting low cost operator easyJet in 1997. EasyJet commenced with scheduled services to Amsterdam and Nice and after these services were established, began to add further destinations. In this, they were joined by rival low cost airline, Ryanair who decided to make Liverpool into one of their European hub airports. The effect on passenger numbers was phenomenal. From a year on year figure of around half a million, Liverpool in a short time began to see passengers in their millions.

The existing terminal had been expanded piecemeal during the British Aerospace era but had reached saturation with a thoughput of 1 million. Peel commissioned a report by international aviation consultants Gensler who recommended the construction of a new terminal at the west end of the runway on the site of the former Dunlop factory. Peel developed this into a formal proposal but, late in the planning process, decided to opt for an extension of the existing terminal. Avoiding the need to duplicate check-in, security and catering facilities was one reason for this rethink but there was also the desire to avoid a public inquiry to which Manchester Airport might object as they had to the British Aerospace proposals.

The new 'extension' swallowed up the original terminal and effectively trebled the passenger capacity of Liverpool Airport. It was opened in 2002 by the Queen and Yoko Ono. The involvement of Yoko reflected the fact that the decision had been taken to change the name to 'Liverpool John Lennon Airport', a move which resulted in worldwide publicity. The link between the Beatles and Liverpool Airport goes back to 1964 when the band landed at the old Northern Terminal to a rapturous welcome from fans for the premier of 'A Hard Day's Night'.

By 2008, the year that Liverpool was designated European Capital of Culture, Liverpool John Lennon Airport had achieved a record 5.5 million passengers. The massive passenger increase was accompanied by developments such as a hotel and car park opposite the terminal and two new hotels in Speke Hall Avenue. Access to the terminal was improved with new bus services and the opening of Liverpool South Parkway Station in 2006 improved rail access from Merseyside, the North West and beyond. ON the technical side, a new control tower was constructed in the Oglet and the runway was resurfaced to allow four engined jets to take off and land.

The recession of 2008 saw the first decline in LJLA's passenger numbers since the mid-1990s and it was not until 2010 that the five million figure was passed again. In 2010, Peel sold a 60% share in the Airport to Vancouver Airport Services. 2010 also saw the completion of a £12 million scheme to expand security and retail provision. The emphasis on retail underlines the fact that in the low cost era, landing charges from aircraft are pared to the bone and airports need other sources of income. The new part owners have stated a willingness to expand services from Liverpool but they face the challenge that the Airport has never made a profit in its history.

Technical Information

The present arrangement of Liverpool John Lennon Airport is almost a textbook example of a single runway airport with short taxiing distances - an important consideration in the low-cost era.

The runway, designated 09/27, was opened in 1966. It is 2,860m (7,500') long and has a full length parallel taxiway with two high speed turn-offs, which reduce runway occupancy by landing aircraft. Escape loops at each end allow planes to abort a take-off without blocking the runway and taxiway system. The runway is orientated roughly east west, which is parallel to the prevailing wind direction and, therefore, minimises the amount of time that the airport is closed due to strong crosswinds. Planes always take off into the wind and so most flights from Liverpool operate westerly. The runway designation (09/27) is derived from the compass bearing to magnetic north. Planes taking off or landing in the westerly direction are said to use runway 27 whereas those in the easterly direction use runway 09 - although there is only one physical runway. Air traffic control decides the runway to be used and change in runway use at Liverpool is coordinated with that at Manchester so that both airports change flight direction simultaneously.

Current and Future Developments

2010 saw construction work proceed on a £12 million upgrade of the security and retail area within the airport. The drivers for this work were the need to increase security provision and thereby reduce queueing time and the need to move most retail activities airside and increase sales area. Eighty percent of retail sales are made airside and recent restrictions on the liquids that can be carried through security has reduced landside sales considerably.

The works involved the construction of a new security area on a new floor within the former Hangar No. 1 accessed by a flight of stairs and escalators at the east end of the terminal. The former route via the central mezzanine floor was blocked off. On passing through security, passengers walk through an expanded duty free shop and descend to the second level retail area.

In a later phase of the project, a new baggage reclaim area will be formed in the first level of the former Hanger No.1 with customs facilities in the second level.

In the longer term, the Airport has plans to expand to 11 million passengers and to develop a new cargo facility in the Oglet. The proposal is that Liverpool John Lennon Airport retains a single terminal but with new aprons served by satellite gate areas. To allow a greater range of destinations and increased aircraft capacities, the existing runway will be extended. The increase in runway length will be provided by a full width extension at the Hale end and a half width starter strip at each end. In addition, a second parallel taxiway will be constructed to the south of the runway for the use of freight aircraft accessing a new cargo centre to be constructed in the Oglet.

The proposals for this upgrade have been through the consultation process.

Environmental Issues

Disregarding the wider impact of aviation, individual airports impact on the environment in three ways: land hunger, noise pollution and air pollution. Nowadays, Liverpool John Lennon Airport has a relatively low environmental impact, although this was not always the case.

The development of the original northern airfield required a large acreage of the former Speke Estate be converted from agricultural to aviation use. The resulting airfield was, however, compact and the majority of flights would take off over the Mersey and land over farmland in the Halewood area. Unfortunately, subsequent housing and industrial development prevented extension of the main runway and, therefore, the new runway required for jet aircraft had to be built in the Oglet on the east side of Speke Hall.

The runway development was environmentally damaging for a number of reasons - it swallowed up more of the Speke Estate and introduced a new flight path over the centre of Hale Village and also concreted over the southern part of Speke Hall's ornate gardens - effectively separating the Hall from the River Mersey. In addition, the long taxiing distances involved from the Northern Terminal to the new runway (in excess of two miles) burned up aviation fuel and increased emissions. (Aircraft can burn up to a ton a mile of fuel when taxiing).

The development of the Southern Terminal and the closure of the Northern Airfield has freed up a large area of land for industrial and commercial development and concentrated aviation activities on to the one runway. The present arrangement of runways and taxiways means that taxiing distances are minimal and so emissions from aircraft are much reduced. To date there has been no mention of the future of the now redundant Speke Hall taxiway.

Aircraft noise remains a problem. Despite the fact that modern aircraft are much quieter than their 1960s counterparts, the massive increase in flights has largely negated that advantage and areas as remote from the Airport as Thornton Hough and Huyton have experienced increases in noise as a result of the expansion. However, the level of noise intrusion from operations at Liverpool is much smaller than many comparable airports due to the large expanse of the Mersey Estuary under the main take-off flight path and the mainly agricultural nature of the main landing flight path.

Friends of Liverpool Airport

Liverpool John Lennon Airport is one of very few airports to have its own supporters group. Friends of Liverpool Airport (FoLA) is an amateur organisation set up in 1982 to promote the use of and need for Liverpool Airport in the face of closure proposals. Its president is Liverpool comedian Ken Dodd and its membership includes airport employees, aviation enthusiasts and people interested in the future development of the Airport.

FoLA meets on the first Tuesday of every month at 19.45 in the Cavern Suite in the airport terminal and there is usually a guest speaker on an airport-related topic. FoLA activities include airport promotion, arranging Airport tours for interested groups and providing assistance for airport activities. It publishes a quarterly magazine, 09/27 (the runway designation).


Official Airport Website http://www.liverpoolairport.com/

Friends of Liverpool Airport http://www.fola.org.uk