East Midlands airport was opened by Prince Philip in 1965 on the site of a Royal Air Force base. It had a 5,850ft runway, 60ft taxiway, new hangar floor and aprons and parking for 850 cars. It was not an instant financial success as an airport but this quickly changed as increased freight traffic development was needed.
In 1970 it was agreed that a new freight complex should be developed and the runway and terminal extended. The runway was extended again in the late 70s and the terminal building upgraded soon after.
1 million passengers passed through the airport in 1985 and 1986 saw Princess Anne opening a £3 million terminal extension. In 1987 the airport became a public limited company.
In 1992 another major terminal extension was proposed but the local authorities could not fund the development. As a result, in 1993 the local authority shareholders took the decision to become the first regional airport to enter the private sector.
The airport was bought for £24.3 million by the National Express Group who recognised the potential of East Midlands Airport. In the next 8 years, they invested an additional £77 million in the airport infrastructure and passenger facilities. Developments included a major extension to the runway, allowing the airport to be marketed as a long-haul operation and a new air traffic control tower.
In 1999 work began on a new business park which now hosts hotels, office blocks and major business headquarters. In 2000 DHL showed faith in the airport's development and opened a £35 million purpose-built facility on the airport site.
In 2000 National Express Group put the airport up for sale and in March 2001 Manchester Airport Group (MAG) completed the purchase of East Midlands Airport for £241 million.
2018 statistics show that the airport currently handles over 4.7 million passengers a year, and they hope to more than double this number to 10 million in the next 10-15 years!