Bristol Airport targeting London-bound fliers as its annual passenger numbers hit record high

February 1, 2024

Passenger numbers at Bristol Airport soared to their highest ever last year as it confirmed its status as the UK airport with the fastest recovery from the pandemic.

Some 9.8m people passed through the terminal in 2023 – a 10% increase compared to pre-Covid-19 pandemic levels in 2019.

The busiest day was in late August, when more than 40,000 passengers used the airport over a 24-hour period.

Airport bosses said the numbers cemented its position as the South West’s and South Wales’ gateway, connecting with more destinations and serving more passengers than all the other airports in these regions combined.

The annual passenger figure was released as work continues on the airport’s largest capital project for more than two decades – a £60m public transport interchange hub and multi-storey car park.

The project forms part of the site’s overall multi-million pound development plan to increase its capacity from 10m to 12m passengers a year.

The work started just months after the High Court’s decision to dismiss a legal challenge from environmental protestors against the airport’s expansion, which will also involve expanding the terminal building.

Bristol Airport chief operating officer Graeme Gamble said: “Last year saw fantastic results as more people than ever saw the benefits of flying from our region’s gateway airport and we welcomed in visitors from all over the UK and Europe.

“Our business partners, airlines and the airport have been able to create new jobs, building up our position as the area’s largest private sector employer.”

He said there was still major scope for growth as more than 8m people a year drove out of the region to fly from London airports.

“Our plan for growth in 2024 and beyond is to give as many of those people as possible the chance to fly local and reach their destination through Bristol Airport,” he added.

The airport will serve more than 115 destinations this year as airlines continue to introduce new services.

EasyJet, already its largest operator, is to expand its operations further by adding an extra aircraft to its fleet based there.

The Airbus A320neo, which will start operations this summer, will be easyJet’s 18th aircraft dedicated to flights from Bristol.

Meanwhile, Ryanair increased its Bristol-based fleet from four to five planes last summer, enabling it to increase its route network from the airport to 33 with four new destinations.

The airport also attracted a number of new operators last year, including Aegean Airlines, Sun Express and Corendon Airlines, while full-service German flag carrier Lufthansa increased the frequency on its Frankfurt route, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) launched the airport’s first direct service to Zurich and Aer Lingus reintroduced flights to Cork.

Bristol Airport bosses have described its expansion, which will be completed next year, as “transformational”, saying it will enhance services and accessibility for passengers whether they are arriving or departing.

It is the biggest development on the site since its current terminal was opened in 2000, when passenger numbers were 2m, and will take 18 months to complete.

As well as the transport interchange and car park, the development will also include a glazed bridge link between the car parks and terminal, new waiting area and rest facilities and an enlarged drop-off and pick-up area.

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