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To the UK by Plane

London is the main gateway for flights between the UK and the rest of the world. Therefore, travellers to the UK are most likely to arrive at one of London's six international airports. Though London is the main gateway, there are other international airports serving cities and regions across England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Crown Dependencies.

Airports Serving London

London is the UK hub for international flights with six airports (Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City and Southend) serving the city. Therefore, travellers to the UK are most likely to arrive at one of London’s six airports. Only Heathrow Airport and London City Airport are located within the city while the other four airports are actually outside of the London area. Ground transport from the airports to London is uncomplicated and straightforward with options that include buses, taxis and car rentals at all airports and trains at some.

North Terminal at Gatwick Airport by Martin Roell

The six airports serving London and the metropolitan area are as follow:The six airports serving London and the metropolitan area are as follow:

  • London Heathrow Airport is the busiest airport in the UK, handling more than 80 airlines from around the world with British Airways being the main airline. The airport connects with over 180 domestic and international destinations in nearly 85 countries across the globe.
  • Gatwick Airport is the second busiest airport in the UK and about 48 km (30 miles) south from Central London. The airport handles full service and low-cost airlines as well as charter flights including Aer Lingus, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and EasyJet.
  • London Stansted Airport is the fourth busiest in the UK and about 48 km (30 miles) northeast of Central London. It is the base for several low-cost airlines mainly flying the European routes with Ryanair being the major airline serving over 130 destinations.
  • London Luton Airport is the fifth busiest in the UK and about 47 km (29 miles) north of Central London. International flights are on the European routes operated by several low-cost airlines with EasyJet, Thomson Airways and Ryanair being the main airlines.
  • London City Airport is a small airport located just 10 km (6 miles) from Central London and a short distance from Canary Wharf. The airport handles mainly short haul flights within European with the main airlines being British Airways, Flybe and CityJet.
  • London Southend Airports is a small airport located about 65 km (40 miles) east of Central London. International flights handled by the airport are between destinations in Europe with EasyJet and Flybe being the main airlines followed by Air Malta.
Aerial view of London City Airport by Frans Zwart

Other Airports in England

Besides the six airports serving London, there are a number of regional airports located across England handling international flights.

  • Manchester Airport (North England) is about 14 km (9 miles) southwest of Manchester and the UK’s fourth busiest airport. The airport handles over 50 airlines serving over 190 destinations around the world.
  • Birmingham Airport (West Midlands) is about 10 km (6 miles) southeast of Birmingham and the seventh busiest in the UK. Over 50 airlines operate at Birmingham Airport flying to over 150 destinations mainly within Europe.
  • Bristol Airport (South West England) is about 13 km (8 miles) from Bristol’s city centre. Over 25 airlines operate here flying to over 150 destinations mainly within Europe with EasyJet and Ryanair being the main airlines.
  • Newcastle International Airport (North East England) is about 9 km (6 miles) from Newcastle upon Tyne’s city centre. Over 15 airlines operate at the airport flying to over 80 destinations mainly within Europe.
  • Liverpool John Lennon Airport (North West England) is about 12 km (8 miles) from Liverpool’s city centre. The airport mainly handles short haul flights within Europe and North Africa with Ryanair and EasyJet being the main airlines.
  • East Midlands Airport (East Midlands) is about 22 km (13.5 miles) from Derby, 24 km (15 miles) from Nottingham and 32 km (20 miles) from Leicester. Most flights are within Europe and a few with North America and the Caribbean.
  • Leeds Bradford Airport (West Yorkshire) is about 11 km (7 miles) from Leeds and 13 km (8 miles) from Bradford. Most flights are within Europe with Jet2.com and Ryanair being the main airlines.
  • Southampton Airport (South East England) is a small airport located about 7 km (4 miles) northeast of Southampton. The busiest international routes are flights between Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris.

Airports in Scotland

Scotland’s main international airports are Edinburgh Airport in the southeastern region of Scotland and Glasgow Airport in the southwestern region. International flights are mainly within Europe but with a few long haul flights between North America. Other but smaller international airports in Scotland include Aberdeen International Airport in the northwest, Inverness Airport in the Scottish Highlands and Glasgow Prestwick Airport about 50 km (32 miles) southwest from Glasgow. International flights are mainly short haul flights within Europe.

Edinburgh Airport by Kim Traynor

Airport in Wales

Wales’s only international airport is Cardiff Airport located about 19 km (12 miles) from the Welsh capital of Cardiff in South Wales. The airport serves the mid, western and southern regions of Wales. Connections on international flights at Cardiff Airport include cities in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain.

Cardiff Airport terminal by Blofeld of SPECTRE

Airports in Northern Ireland

Belfast International Airport is the main airport in Northern Ireland and located 21 km (13 miles) from the city of Belfast. Another is the smaller Belfast City Airport about 5 km (3 miles) from the city. Both airports handle international flights within Europe with Belfast International offering more connections.

Check-in at Belfast International by Ardfern

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