Bristol Airport in the southwest of England has announced 6.76 million passengers used Bristol Airport in 2015, surpassing the total for the previous 12 months by nearly 500,000*. The record annual number represents a 7.7% increase year on year, and a sixth consecutive year of growth for England’s third largest regional airport.
Both charter and scheduled airline sectors contributed to the rise, with increased capacity on existing routes and the introduction of a raft of new destinations. The ‘big two’ tour operators (TUI and Thomas Cook) sold more seats and holidays, and traffic over hub airports such as Amsterdam, Dublin and Frankfurt was strong, with many making onward connections to long-haul flights.
Established airlines easyJet, bmi regional and Ryanair launched new routes to destinations including Basle, Bilbao, Munich, Düsseldorf and Vienna, while 2015 also saw a new entrant to the South West market in the shape of Wizz Air, which commenced services to Katowice in Poland and Kosice in Slovakia, with the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, to follow later this month.
Continued growth is forecast in 2016, with passenger numbers expected to exceed the seven million mark for the first time in the Airport’s history. Alongside growth from existing carriers, Bristol will become only the second UK departure point for Icelandic low-cost airline, WOW air, when it commences flights to North America via Reykjavik in May. Another new addition for travellers looking further afield is Cape Verde. Thomson Airways commenced flights there last November.
The development of passenger facilities to cater for this increased demand continues, with work underway on a £24 million west terminal extension which will transform the security search process for passengers when completed later this year, as well as creating an enlarged baggage reclaim area, customs facilities and meet and greet area. Work has also commenced on the construction of a 201-room Hampton by Hilton hotel set to be completed this winter.
This follows the opening of an £8.6 million extension to the departure lounge in July 2015, featuring new shops, food and drink outlets, a distinctive outdoor terrace, second executive lounge and hundreds of additional seats.
Beyond the airport boundary, the completion of the South Bristol Link (SBL) will enhance access to the airport from the north, east and west. The SBL forms part of the MetroBus network of rapid transit routes in the West of England, to which Bristol Airport is contributing more than £4.7 million towards the cost of construction as part of planning permission for development to handle up to 10 million passengers per annum.
Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said:
“Increased demand for air travel is a positive sign that the South West economy continues to thrive. Given the growth in our route network and continued improvement in facilities and services, passengers are increasingly turning to Bristol as the premier gateway airport serving the South West and Wales.”
*Due to differences in the way some flights are recorded, Bristol Airport figures may contain small variances when compared to those reported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).