5th May 1939

Guernsey Airport opened for business

Guernsey Airport was far from busy on its first day of business. In fact, it didn’t host any “regular” services until 1946, following liberation.

It looked very different to the airport that we know today. It had grass runways, rather than concrete, and a small terminal building. However, it was a significant improvement on the landing strip that had been established at L’Eree, which was prone to flooding and could barely accommodate aircraft of any decent size.

A split vote

The vote to establish the airport at its current location, in La Villiaze, Forest, was passed by the slimmest margin. Of the 51 Deputies that took part, 26 voted in favour, and 25 against. Work on its construction began on 13 March 1937.

Upon completion, its four grass runways, the longest of which was just 910m (1000 yards), were opened by Sir Kingsley Wood, the British Air Minister.

The airport had cost £100,500 to build, and had very little time to get established before the start of the Second World War. It was initially commandeered by the RAF, until the British government decided that the Channel Islands were of little strategic importance. Churchill ordered their demilitarisation and the RAF left.

The airport in the war

The airport didn’t stay out of action for long, though. German planes made an experimental landing there the day after they’d bombed the harbour. Encountering no resistance, they realised that the islands were undefended. They took over the airport in June 1940, and although Allied forces bombed it as the war drew on, they held it until Liberation Day in 1945.

In the years that followed the war, passenger numbers grew and the airport itself was developed. It got its first concrete runway in 1960. Then, when the existing terminal building could no longer cope with the number of passengers passing through it, a brand-new facility was built beside it. This opened for business in 2004 and the old terminal was demolished. The space where it previously sat is now used for aircraft parking.

 

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Other events that occured in May

Priaulx Library opens for the first time 1st
Horse racing returns to L’Ancresse race course 2nd
Guernsey deportee, nurse Gladys Skillett was born
“Twink” goes missing on its way to Guernsey 3rd
Role of Chief Minister of Guernsey abolished 4th
Guernsey Airport opened for business 5th
Alderney debated in the House of Commons 6th
Songs of Praise comes from Guernsey 7th
Final issue of Deutsche Guernsey-Zeitung was published 8th
Guernsey was liberated from German occupation 9th
A Guernsey retiree’s £1m offer attracts 57,000 requests 10th
A liberation celebration ended in disaster 11th
Guernsey plays Tottenham Hotspur 12th
Guernsey’s telephone wars broke out 13th
British papers reported Dame of Sark’s deportation 14th
The States of Guernsey bought Aurigny 15th
Alderney was liberated at the end of the second world war 16th
Herm goes back on the market 17th
A mainland murder with a Guernsey connection 18th
Guernsey declared a State of Emergency 19th
Wartime diplomat Wilfred Gallienne born in Guernsey 20th
Hauteville House is bequeathed to the City of Paris 21st
Guernsey poet and painter Denys Corbet was born 22nd
John Doyle was appointed Lieutenant-Governor 23rd
The Imperial Hotel opened for the first time 24th
Elizabeth College is founded in St Peter Port 25th
Game of Thrones actor Roy Dotrice was born 26th
Head of Guernsey CID is shot in St Peter Port 27th
Work started on the Victoria Tower
Guernsey’s first paid constables were hired 28th
Guernsey woman advised to leave for her safety 29th
Occupation stories occupy the mainland papers 30th
“Overdose” verdict in Guernsey farmer’s death inquiry 31st