Bristol Airport’s new walkway was officially opened today (Friday 28 May), concluding 12 months’ work on the £8 million project. Following several weeks of tests to familiarise airlines and ground handlers with the new facility, Councillor Nigel Ashton, the Leader of North Somerset Council, declared the walkway ‘open for business’ – just in time for what is forecast to be the Airport’s busiest weekend of the year so far.
The new 450m walkway connects the terminal building to eight new pre-boarding zones, enabling passengers to walk to and from aircraft instead of being driven by bus. Not only does this improve customer service and enable airlines to better implement priority boarding, it will also reduce emissions from airport vehicles.
As well as improving the departure experience, arriving passengers will be given a positive first impression of the airport and the region, walking undercover from their aircraft to the terminal building. Eye-catching artwork has been commissioned to highlight the attractions of the South West to visitors, and this will adorn a 50 metre stretch of wall-space en route to passport control.
A VIP audience representing airlines, businesses, local communities and tourism organisations were on hand to celebrate the occasion, which comes just days before Bristol Airport’s 80th anniversary (31 May).
Over 81,000 passengers are expected to travel through the terminal over the Bank Holiday weekend (28-31 May), nearly 10 per cent up on last year’s figures.
Popular destinations include Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia.
Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said:
“The new walkway delivers an improved service to our airline customers and their passengers. It is the most visible example to date of our new brand promise – ‘Amazing Journeys Start Here’.
“The walkway will make the airport journey more convenient, easy and enjoyable, removing the hassle of bus transfers for the majority of passengers. It is a statement of our ambition to be a world class airport in North Somerset.”
Councillor Nigel Ashton, Leader of North Somerset Council, said:
“As well as improving the experience of all passengers, it is a symbol of the airport’s commitment to North Somerset and the South West region and I wish them every success.”
The walkway was constructed by Bristol-based building contractor, Kier Western. The structure incorporates 700 tonnes of steel and contains 73,000 floor tiles.
In March, Bristol Airport marked the tenth anniversary of its terminal building by unveiling a new brand identity to guide its business over the next decade. The new brand represents ‘people’, ‘place’ and ‘region’ – the three pillars on which the airport’s success rests – and promises ‘Amazing Journeys Start Here’.
The terminal is expected to handle its 50 millionth passenger towards the end of the year.
A state-of-the-art ‘walk through’ tax and duty free store opened in April, with regional products showcased in a ‘Best of the West’ range.
Transport improvements have also been announced, including a new code of conduct for taxi-drivers, a new fleet of vehicles, and improvements to the Flyer bus service at a cost of £2 million.