Soaring international traffic prompts Inverness Airport expansion

HIAL_AIRPORTSA 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 per cent 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.”