ROUTES EUROPE: Aberdeen Airport Reports Strong Start to 2014

More than 3.48 million people passed through Aberdeen International Airport in 2013, beating the previous record high of 3.43 million in 2007, before the economic downturn. But, the airport has no plans to rest on its laurels but use this as a platform for further development.

Next year’s Routes Europe host airport, Aberdeen International, has reported strong passenger growth during the first month of 2014 having hit record traffic levels in 2013, and the launch of new services this year, including the recently inaugurated airBaltic connection to Riga will help it expand further in 2014.

More than 3.48 million people passed through Aberdeen International Airport in 2013, beating the previous record high of 3.43 million in 2007, before the economic downturn. But, the airport has no plans to rest on its laurels but use this as a platform for further development.

“Throughout 2013 we were aware that the whole team was putting in a great performance, and it is therefore very pleasing to see us record such a high passenger figure. What this represents is a recovery from the recession which hit the whole of the UK aviation sector, some more than others. We have recovered and then improved upon that performance as a result of great team-work and the continued buoyancy of our region,” said Carol Benzie, managing director, Aberdeen International Airport.

The initial signs for 2014 are positive and in January 2014 traffic was up 9.8 per cent on the same month last year, with almost 251,400 people passing through the airport. Both helicopter and fixed wing passenger numbers grew, up 17.8 per cent and 8.5 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, February 2014 numbers rose 6.5 per cent on last year with the airport handling 255,416 passengers.

“2014 is now well underway, and to be reporting a strong set of results gives us confidence in the future. This year will not be without its challenges, not least working hard to ensure that our terminal redevelopment plans can continue at pace with minimal disruption to passengers,” said Benzie

”These passenger numbers also strengthen the case we make in our on-going discussion with airlines around new routes as we continue to try to improve our leisure travel offering. We are all hopeful that this positive trend in passenger growth can continue,” she added.

It has been 20 months in the planning and the go-ahead was given last year for the significant terminal redevelopment plan, at a cost of £13 million. The project, which will take three years to complete, will totally alter the look and feel of the airport’s terminal, including a larger lounge area, more retail opportunities, refreshed arrivals products with new reclaims belts for both domestic and international passengers, and a state-of-the-art new security search area.

The project will see the airside area significantly increased with security brought forward, freeing up more space for new catering and shopping facilities. The process to relocate security will itself result in a completely refurbished search area with new technology and more search lanes, all installed whilst meeting strict regulatory requirements.

Based on current forecasts, this new plan will provide the capacity for passenger growth up to 2028, as well as addressing the current constraints. The plans themselves have been tested by independent consultants to ensure they are “future-proof”, but importantly were all based on feedback from passengers and the wider North-east community. Passenger numbers are expected to grow by 20 per cent over the coming six years and the new layout and facilities have been designed around their needs.

“Make no mistake; we understand the need that exists,” said Benzie. ”This terminal was opened in 1977 and what we are about to embark upon is the biggest change since that time. This is a resounding show of support from our executive board and reflects their confidence in the growing Aberdeen market. Whilst work has already begun to enable this project to start, the bulk of work on site will be visible from the third quarter of 2014.”

Next year’s Routes Europe takes place in the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre between April 12-14, 2015 and will be hosted by Aberdeen City and Shire. It will be the first time the forum has taken place in the UK.