Bristol Airport invites Weston people to 'come fly with us'
By Carol_Deacon | Thursday, February 21, 2013, 17:34
BRISTOL mayor George Ferguson has called for the city's airport to join forces with its nearest and fiercest rival.
Three new routes from BMI Regional
Air crew Robert Sinclair, Ian Woodley and Sarah Mullins
Fly to Malto direct from Bristol in May
Which doesn't really make commercial sense as Bristol is attracting more passengers from Wales than Cardiff.
Figures previously published showed more than one million passengers used Cardiff in 2012, down about 200,000 in a year, while Bristol topped six million.
Obviously the newly elected Mr Ferguson has no interest in the economy of North Somerset and the big part played by the Lulsgate airport.
Bristol Airport directly employs around 200 people with a wider employee community of nearer 3,000.
In an interview for BBC Wales' Sunday Politics Wales, George Ferguson said both airports have their problems, and it would be better if they could work together.
Mr Ferguson said: "It would be good if we combined forces with Cardiff, I am not suggesting a Boris-type island in the middle of the Severn, not just yet anyway, but there must be some way in which the two airports could work closer together.
"The problem is that we have a privately owned airport and one that is about to be owned publicly so there could be issues."
There have been concerns about the Regional Assembly buying Cardiff which it is feared would give it an unfair advantage.
Bristol Airport chief executive Robert Sinclair said: "We welcome the mayor's support for fair competition on a level playing field and his comments on the dangers of 'special deals on taxation'.
"Bristol Airport is the fifth largest airport outside London and the only one of the UK's top 10 to see growth each year since the end of 2009.
"More than 100 destinations are served direct with new routes to Milan, Munich and Bristol's twin city, Hannover, announced earlier this week.
"We have also made significant investment to improve public transport access from across the south west and south Wales, and rank as one of the most noise efficient airports in the UK – so we take issue with the mayor's view that Bristol Airport is somehow 'unsatisfactory' and badly positioned, neither of which is borne out by analysis of our passenger figures or consideration of environmental impacts.
"We look forward to working more closely with the mayor in the coming months to ensure he fully appreciates the economic contribution made by Bristol Airport and the vital role access to air links plays in supporting business growth and investment."
Airline carrier BMI Regional has launched three new European routes from Bristol Airport this month. The company said the flights to Munich, Milan and Hannover were a continuation of its 'regional's promise' to serve key economic and tourism hubs.
BMI chief executive Cathal O'Connell said the company was positioning itself for growth in Bristol and the southwest.
The flights will start on Monday, May 13, with six flights on each route per week. The company also launched three routes from Bristol before Christmas to Aberdeen, Frankfurt and Hamburg.
This summer Air Malta will again operate weekly charter flights to/from seven regional airports in the UK between May and October 2013 including one from Bristol and two from Cardiff.
- Bristol Airport is the ninth largest airport in the UK and the fifth largest outside London and handles nearly six million passengers annually;
- More than 100 destinations in 30 countries are served direct from Bristol;
- Planning permission is in place for £150 million development of facilities to handle up to 10 million passengers per annum by 2020;
- A pool of 13 contractors have been appointed to carry out expansion work at Bristol Airport;
- Work on three new aircraft parking stands has already been completed but work on a new on-site hotel is expected to start soon;
- An airport spokesman said it had created the 'framework' of contractors to avoid potentially costly and time-consuming EU procurement rules, a move which he said was common for organisations like the airport;
- One of the next projects will be the 'central walkway' to help alleviate some of the queuing at busy times in the departure lounge, and provide undercover access to the aircraft;
- Developments will also include the extension of the terminal building to almost double its size, a new public transport interchange and two multi-storey car parks as well as on site renewable energy generation from wind turbines and a biomass facility which generates heat for the expanded facilities.