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HIAL invests in Inverness Airport expansion

Posted 4 March 2016 · Add Comment

Highlands & Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) have announced an £900,000 expansion plan for Inverness Airport, including a new arrivals hall, a bigger departures lounge and improved security facilities.

A major plan to expand and upgrade Inverness Airport has been announced as the Highland terminal gears up for what could be its busiest year ever. With British Airways launching a new daily service to London Heathrow and KLM flying daily to Amsterdam Schiphol from May, and easyJet expanding services to London Luton and Gatwick this summer, airport operator HIAL is to invest £900,000 to expand and upgrade the terminal building.

The investment will see a new standalone international arrivals hall, which will house Border Force and international baggage reclaim facilities, built alongside the main terminal and linked by a covered walkway.

The new international arrivals facility will free up capacity in the main terminal where the existing airside departure lounge will be extended and reconfigured to provide seating capacity for an additional 150 passengers and four new retail and catering units, including a duty free store and coffee shop.

Kier Construction has been appointed to construct the new international arrivals hall and expand the existing departure lounge.

In a separate project, the airport’s security search area is also being refurbished and expanded, with the revamped pre-screening area offering a faster, more streamlined process for departing passengers.

Work on the security screening area is already underway and due for completion in March while the new look departure lounge and international arrivals hall are due to open in May.

Inverness Airport is the fastest growing of the 11 strong HIAL group with passenger numbers up by 8% during 2015. With growth forecast to continue in 2016, airport managers say the investment will provide more space for passengers to shop, eat and relax.

Graeme Bell, Inverness Airport General Manager, said: “Inverness Airport has enjoyed a sustained period of growth during 2015 and our forecasts show that 2016 could well be our busiest year ever. This is a direct result of our success in securing new services such as Amsterdam and London Heathrow, and our efforts to grow existing hub routes such as London Gatwick and Manchester.

“We are delighted that Inverness Airport is continuing to grow but acutely aware that the terminal is already congested at peak times. This investment will help ensure that passengers have more space to relax in a much larger departure lounge offering new catering and shopping facilities.”

The new international arrivals hall is a response to rapid growth in international traffic at Inverness. Over the past five years, the airport has attracted new services to Amsterdam, Dublin, Geneva and Zurich, boosting the number of international passengers from 4,205 in 2010 to 37,450 in 2015, an eightfold increase.

Mr Bell added: “International traffic has grown significantly at Inverness in recent years and the construction of a new dedicated international arrivals hall illustrates our ambition to expand our international route network further.

“We will work closely with our airline partners to ensure that any disruption is kept to a minimum during the redevelopment of the terminal.”

At a ‘ground breaking’ ceremony to mark the start of the main phase of construction, Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism, said: “These are exciting times for Inverness Airport and this investment, which will make real improvements to the passenger experience, is very timely with the airport expecting its busiest year on record.

“The terminal extension will allow the airport to house more passengers, offer new retail facilities and make the security process faster – all of these measures will no doubt be welcomed by travellers.

“Inverness Airport has experienced great success over the past few years, with new routes being won and passengers numbers continuing to rise. This work will ensure that the airport is able to build on that success, and I look forward to seeing the new facilities in action when they open for use in May.”

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of HIAL, said: “With 2016 likely to be the airport’s most successful year ever, this investment will ensure that we are geared up for growth and able to deliver a better experience for passengers.

"We have worked hard to expand the airport’s domestic and international network and we are now seeing the fruits of those efforts. The arrival of British Airways and KLM in May will be transformational for the airport, connecting the Highlands to a truly global network. Our investment will ensure that passengers using Inverness Airport enjoy a better start to their journey.”

Scotland’s regional airport group HIAL recorded its busiest ever year in 2015, gaining more than 45,000 additional passengers during the year. Latest figures show that 1,451,793 travellers passed through HIAL’s 11 airports in 2015, an increase of 3.2% on the previous year.

Inverness was the busiest – and fastest growing – airport with 678,683 passengers, an increase of 8% and up by more than 50,000 on the previous year. Growth was driven by increased demand on the airport’s international services, including Amsterdam, Dublin, Geneva and Zurich as well as increased traffic to UK hubs Manchester and London Gatwick. The airport is set for one of its busiest ever years as British Airways and KLM launch new services to London Heathrow and Amsterdam Schiphol in May.

Islay was also a strong performer in 2015, with passenger numbers up by 6.9%. Barra, Benbecula and Tiree also recorded increases.

Dundee Airport ended the year in a strong position, recording two consecutive quarters of growth in the second half of 2015 due to increased golf leisure traffic and growing demand for its daily Stansted service.

Sumburgh and Wick John O’Groats both recorded a slight fall in numbers due to less demand for energy sector services to and from Aberdeen. Numbers also fell at Campbeltown, Kirkwall and Stornoway.

Inglis Lyon said: “The last twelve months have been the busiest in HIAL’s 30 year history with record numbers of business and leisure passengers using our airports. This growth illustrates the enormous importance of our regional airports to Scotland’s economy. The diversity of our group is unrivalled anywhere in the UK. From Barra’s iconic beach landing, this year celebrating its 80th anniversary, to the busy city hub of Inverness and the economic driver that is Sumburgh, each of our airports ensures that businesses, tourism providers and communities are better connected.

“We will continue to invest in our airports, with major developments planned or underway at Inverness and Sumburgh this year, and continued efforts to improve our customer service and attract more business across the group. Notwithstanding the welcome arrival of British Airways and KLM at Inverness we have more work to do to attract new business and improve our financial outlook.”

The expansion of Inverness Airport will serve to complement the Inverness Airport Business Park (IABP) - a joint venture between Moray Estates Development Company, HIAL and Highlands & Islands Enterprise, with the support of The Highland Council - which is a planning approved and master planned commercial development of 620-acres with 36-acres of serviced land currently available for occupation, located adjacent to the airport.

The IABP's design reflects the stakeholders’ commitment to promoting Inverness Airport Business Park to enhance the long term social, economic and environmental sustainability of the area, as well as providing a vibrant commercial hub that will build on the established and continued success of Inverness.

Inverness Airport Business Park is nine-miles east from Inverness City Centre and is located beside the region’s main hub airport and alongside its key trunk routes, the nearby A9 and adjacent A96 corridor to Aberdeen. A new rail halt is planned for Inverness Airport on the main Inverness-Aberdeen line and is scheduled to open in 2017.


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