Passenger Numbers Reach 7M at Bristol Airport for the First Time

Bristol International Airport is handling larger numbers of passengers. This year, seven million passengers passed through the airport and it’s quite possible those numbers will increase through 2016 and into 2017. BIA is the third busiest regional airport in the United Kingdom.

BIA is a hub for the budget airlines Ryanair, EasyJet and BMI Regional. They have added new routes coming in and out of destinations in Spain, Germany, and Austria. Low-cost airline Wizz Air has new routes to Katowice, Poland and Kosice, Slovakia. There are plans to make Bristol the second departure point in the UK for Iceland-based WOW Air, when it begins flying to North America via Reykjavik. Increased bookings on these existing routes and new ones have created a significant demand for the expansion of facilities at BIA.

For instance, millions of pounds have been allocated for the extension of the west terminal which will streamline the security process for passengers. Last year, the departure lounge was enlarged with new stores, food outlets, and a second executive lounge.

There’s more. Increased passenger traffic will mean all those extra people will want a convenient place to stay, particularly if their time in the UK is short. Hilton Worldwide is in agreement with the building provider CMIC to construct a modular hotel at BIA. The 201 room hotel is expected to open later this year and will be the first hotel at the airport.

There are, however, people who object to these grand expansion schemes. Environmental groups, including Bristol Friends of the Earth, the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the Parish Councils’ Airport Association have been less than enthusiastic about the plans to accommodate higher numbers of passengers at BIA. They contend that more airport passengers will mean more people will travel in cars to and from the airport. Inevitably, rural roads will be under incredible pressure and sooner or later, they will have to be maintained.

More planes taking off and landing at BIA means more noise for the people who live close by. And, if there is an increase in support services around the airport, there will be a need to build new warehouses, more hotels, restaurants, and so on. More land will be swallowed up by these properties, and land is something we can’t manufacture.

But doesn’t airport expansion bring in foreign investment? Not always. Bristol is easily accessible from London, and the bigger and busier airports around that city have always attracted more capital from abroad. Doesn’t expansion bring in more jobs? Yes, but are they well paid? BIA has the same number of staff as it did in the year 2000 – around 200 people. Most of the envisaged staff will get relatively low paid work, and airports are always trying to keep costs low. Minimum wage work will no doubt attract migrant workers and they will need someplace to live, increasing pressure on local housing and services.


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