Opening as RAF Hurn in 1941 during the Second World War, the airfield now known as Bournemouth International Airport was primarily used for fighter pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, and was the main airfield in England used for flying to Morocco for the North African campaigns.

Transferring to civil control in 1944, the site at Hurn was used as the main airbase for London (between 1944 and 1946) until the completion of Heathrow, which resumed international travel from the capital. In 1958, the first chartered flight from Palmair departed from the airport, with Bournemouth being the headquarters of the airline until 2011, when the airline went into effective hibernation, ceasing operations without dissolving.

Accessible via the A338 and the A31 Ringwood Road, Bournemouth International Airport has had a varied history, being based at Hurn since it was built during the war, to provide an alternative to the much smaller Christchurch Airfield, which was development and built over following the war.

RyanAir and TUI Airways now have aircraft based at Bournemouth, providing a large number of routes throughout the Mediterranean and Western Europe. As a result of the increased footfall, the small terminal was replaced at the start of the 21st century, with a multimillion pound investment to replace the facilities, and the new arrivals hall is designed to be far more environmentally friendly, producing an estimated 70% less carbon dioxide than its predecessor.

The first British woman air traffic controller, Yvonne Pope Sintes, worked at Bournemouth Airport just after her initial qualification, before graduating on to Gatwick, later becoming Britain’s first female commercial airline captain.

Next to the airport’s entrance was the College of Air Traffic Control, operated by NATS, the provider of air traffic control services in the UK. Established by the Ministry of Civil Aviation as the School of Air Traffic Control in 1949, the establishment was retitled as a college in 1962. In 2011, NATS transferred their training facilities to Whiteley, just outside of Southampton, with the building being purchased by the Parkfield School, an open and alternative education provider that takes students from across the areas of Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch.

The airport also has a 200-acre industrial park on-site, which includes a range of both offices and hangars. In 2009, Manchester Airport Developments completed a development of 14 industrial units which is the first part of a number of phases to redevelop facilities for the wider aviation sector. Aerospace engineering group Babcock International currently has its Defence and Security offices located at the airport.