Alex McWhirter looks back at the launch of the airport, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

Bristol has come a long way in 60 years. Back in 1957, when it opened on its current site, its routes were few and far between and were often flown by Douglas DC-3s. That year, the number of passengers totalled 33,000.

Today, it boasts a multitude of flights across Europe with a variety of airlines serving 120 destinations in 30 countries. Bristol expects eight million passengers this year. It now also boasts its own hotel (a Hampton by Hilton).

It is the low-cost airlines that have really put Bristol on the map over the past 16 years, making it England’s third-largest regional airport. Go, a subsidiary of British Airways, set the ball rolling in 2001, to be followed by Easyjet (which later absorbed Go), Ryanair and Wizz Air.

Business airline Bmi Regional is based at Bristol. Its routes include Brussels, Frankfurt, Munich and Paris CDG with onward connections. Aer Lingus and KLM also link with Bristol from Dublin and Amsterdam. And now, with a few seasonal routes, BA has returned this summer after an absence of ten years.

It is disappointing that Bristol never managed to sustain any long-haul services, apart from Continental’s B757 flights to New York Newark between 2005 and 2010. Expect nearby Cardiff to draw the publicity when Qatar Airways launches a global service in 2018. But for now Bristol is set for another busy year.