Bristol Airport ‘key to future of UK aviation sector’, says Transport Secretary

June 22, 2012

Regional airports such as Bristol are essential for the UK’s economy and business success, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said this morning as she officially opened three new aircraft stands at the airport – the first of more than 30 projects worth around £150m which will enable growth over the next decade.

The new stands are key to increasing capacity for more aircraft to operate from the airport – the fifth largest outside London.

The first phase of the development will ultimately enable the airport to handle 10m passengers a year. Last year 5.8m passengers used the airport.

Ms Greening, pictured, said: “Bristol Airport really is a viable alternative to London's airports. The Government recognises the role regional airports such as Bristol can play in making sure the country remains an important hub for international air travel.”

She said the importance of airports such as Bristol would be underlined in the Government’s new aviation strategy. She also said electrification of the Bristol-London rail line would benefit the airport as it could bring inward investment to the city.

The Government was also listening to the aviation industry over passenger taxes, she said.

The official ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new aircraft stands was cancelled due to heavy rain and strong winds and Ms Greening made her speech inside at one of the airport's new departure gates overlooking the stands.

Airport chief executive Robert Sinclair said Ms Greening’s visit had given the airport’s management team the chance to press the case for support for the industry and, particularly, regional airports.

He said the new facilities along with an extended route network would provide more convenient travel options for many of the 5m passengers from the region currently flying from London airports and could bring in up to £2bn of investment to the region.

Each new aircraft stand has a fixed electrical ground power source. Strict rules govern the use of auxiliary power units and mobile diesel unites in order to reduce noise levels for local residents. The stands have been built on the site of some outdated aircraft hangars. Three further stands are to be built, taking the total to 29.

The new stands will be able to accommodate larger aircraft – including Airbus’s yet-to-fly A350 and its rival, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner – which in turn will mean the airport will be able to add longer haul destinations.

Other developments at the airport will include the extension of the terminal building to almost double its size; a new public transport interchange; further aircraft parking stands; and an on-site hotel. 

Ms Greening also visited Bristol Port today where she met directors of the Bristol Port Company to discuss key issues affecting the business. She also toured the Avonmouth and Royal Portbury Docks.

The port is on target this year to handle 450,000 vehicles – a 3.5% increase on last year. Exports of motor vehicles are expected to increase this year by 2%.

Among UK car manufacturers using the port are Jaguar Land Rover, which is shipping its new Range Rover Evoque model to overseas markets from the port.


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