BOURNEMOUTH Airport is celebrating its 80th birthday this month having begun life as an RAF base in August 1941.

At the time it was established it was known as RAF Hurn, due to its close proximity to the village of the same name, and was vital to the defence of England during World War Two.

Fast forward 80 years and the airport serves in excess of 30 domestic and international destinations with more being added all the time as the air network reopens following the pandemic.

Steve Gill, managing director of Bournemouth Airport, said: “It’s great to be marking our 80th birthday and who would have guessed that a wartime airfield all those years ago would grow into the modern, international airport we see today.

“Before the pandemic we saw year-on-year passenger growth of 20 per cent with an ambition to hit two million passengers within five years. I believe that could still be achievable as the market returns but right now we’re focused on the summer and upcoming winter season.”

Until 1944 the RAF and US Army Forces used the airport, after which it was transferred to civilian control and served as London’s transatlantic airport until Heathrow opened in 1948.