Sumburgh airport is the main airport serving the Shetland Islands. It is located on the southern tip of the Shetland Mainland, nearly 25 miles south of the Lerwick. There are direct flights from Sumburgh to Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Kirkwall. In the summer, there is a service to Bergen, leaving once a week on saturdays from the end of May until late August.
History of Sumburgh airport
From the landing of the first aircraft at Sumburgh Links, on 18th April 1933, it was another 3 years before a regular scheduled service to Shetland commenced. The first scheduled flight to land was on 2nd June 1936 belonging to Aberdeen Airways and piloted by Captain Eric Starling. The first scheduled airmail service. 3 times a week, started on 23rd November 1937, by Allied Airways.
With the outbreak of World War II, the airstrip at Sumburgh Links was taken over by the Air Ministry and included major works to construct runways and associated infrastructure. By 1941, the runways were in place and the RAF flew Mosquitoes, Hurricanes, Spitfires, Swordfish and Beaumonts and successful missions included the bombing by Mosquitos of the Gestapo headquarters in Oslo.
During the war years, scheduled services were continued, and following the end of the war in 1946, BEA (British European Airways) started a scheduled service. In the late 1970s, the rapid expansion of oil related traffic saw the airport become the fastest growing in the UK with a peak of 685,000 passengers and 51,000 aircraft movements in 1978. A new terminal was created to replace the “Virkie Terminal” and this was opened by HRH Princess Alexandra in 1979. Runway extensions took place in 2005 to allow larger aircraft to use the airport, and this included transporting large rocks from Norway by barge to protect the runway from the elements.
Read more about where to go and what to visit on Shetland.