2017: A 'year of opportunities' for Bristol Airport
PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 January 2017
More jobs, exciting new destinations and better transport links are all on the itinerary for Bristol Airport in 2017, as the airport says it is embarking on a mission to draw the South West's passengers back to the region in the New Year. The airport enjoyed one of its most successful-ever years in 2016, with annual passenger numbers exceeding seven million for the first time in its history, but it now says it wants to make 2017 even better. Reporter Grace Earl reflects on the airport's achievements last year, and takes a look at what is in store for passengers in the next 12 months.
2016: A ‘big year’ for Bristol Airport The past 12 months saw the airport hit a major milestone, as more than seven million passengers passed through the Lulsgate terminal in a year for the first time.
The airport also announced in April that long-haul flights to Cancun, in Mexico, and Sanford in Florida, would begin operating in summer 2017.
Meanwhile, work is continuing on a £24million extension to the airport’s west terminal, which will transform the security search process for passengers once it is fully open.
The airport also unveiled plans to invest £2.3million in improving the arrivals area. It will increase its number of passport control points from 10 to 17 – including 10 new e-passport gates – and the arrivals hall itself will also be expanded.
Chief executive officer Robert Sinclair told the Mercury the airport’s record passenger numbers were one of his proudest achievements of 2016.
Mr Sinclair said: “2016 has been a big year for Bristol Airport.
“We began by being named the UK’s most punctual airport and finished number one in the country for overall passenger satisfaction, while major developments to customer facilities – including the west terminal extension – has taken investment in infrastructure to more than £150million since 2010.”
What’s in store for 2017?
Bristol Airport has promised to continue investing in its facilities in 2017, with new building projects and services already in the pipeline.
Perhaps most excitingly will be the completion of the airport’s first-ever hotel, which is set to open in February.
The Hampton by Hilton building will have 201 rooms, which are built in China and then shipped across to the UK, where they are then fully assembled on-site. The rooms are made from former shipping containers, but are fully fitted out with high-quality furniture, electrical goods and a bathroom.
Work will also begin on the first phase of the airport’s long-awaited multi-storey car park, which will be located opposite the terminal building and is set to open in May 2018.
A new reception building for the existing Silver Zone car park will also be built, after planning permission was granted by North Somerset Council’s planning committee earlier this year, while the car park itself will also be expanded to accommodate an additional 3,500 cars.
Mr Sinclair told the Mercury he hoped the improvements would go a long way towards attracting passengers to the South West and encouraging people in North Somerset and Bristol to fly from the airport, rather than travelling to London to catch a plane from Heathrow or Gatwick.
Mr Sinclair said: “These new facilities will help us win back some of the seven million passengers from the South West who currently fly from London airports.
“We will also continue to work with tourism bodies across the region to welcome even more visitors to this fantastic part of the world.”
This year will also see the airport introduce a Weston Flyer bus service, which will improve public transport options between the airport and Weston. It is due to begin running in spring.
Mr Sinclair said he hoped the bus would make new jobs at the airport more accessible to people living in Weston and North Somerset.
He said: “More than 3,000 staff are employed across the Bristol Airport site, and new developments will create further openings for local people who want to build a career here.
“All of this means 2017 will be a year of opportunities.”