Bristol Airport is to invest £20m on improving and expanding its car parking after gaining consent for three new schemes.
At least 3,500 more spaces will be added to its Silver Zone parking area to cope with the airport’s rapid growth.
Passenger numbers are on course to top 7m this year for the first time and the airport has a long-term plan to increase this further to 10m as demand continues to soar.
The parking schemes approved by North Somerset Council’s planning & regulatory committee also include improvements to the airport’s staff and visitor car parks and a new two-storey reception building for passengers.
Thousands of passengers will pass through this building on a typical day in the peak summer season, making it an important gateway to the airport. Around 50 staff from the airport’s ground transportation team will be based in it to transfer passengers to departures.
The extension to the airport’s staff and visitors’ car park will cater for the growing number of staff and contractors on site as well as allowing flight crew members to park close to the administration building – so reducing the potential for delays which could hit airline punctuality.
Work has already begun to meet landscaping and ecological conditions ahead of construction of the new parking areas.
Meanwhile, preparations are underway for the first phase of the airport’s first multi-storey car park, which will be on the opposite side of the terminal and set to open in May 2018.
The car park extension will coincide with increased public transport options, including a ‘Weston Flyer’ express bus service between the airport and Weston-super-Mare scheduled for launch next spring next year.
This follows the successful introduction of the Falcon service from Plymouth, Exeter and Taunton earlier this year. The opening of the new South Bristol Link road this winter will improve journey time reliability for the Bristol Flyer express bus between the airport and the city centre, including Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
The investment in the car parks also follows major extensions to the terminal building, including a £24m upgrade to the security search, baggage reclaim and arrivals areas. Improvements to the immigration hall totalling £2.3m are scheduled to take place this winter and a 201-room Hampton-by-Hilton hotel will open early next year.
The airport’s route network is also growing with direct flights now to 116 destinations. Next May Thomson Airways will add Florida and Mexico when it starts operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from the airport. The 288-seat aircraft, pictured – the largest to fly on scheduled services from the airport – will open up the possibility for more direct long-haul destinations in future.
Airport CEO Robert Sinclair said: “Taken together, these developments demonstrate our continued drive to enhance passenger and staff facilities at Bristol Airport.
“By bringing forward improvements to Silver Zone we can meet customer demand for good quality, secure car parking at a competitive price. Once completed, the multi-storey car park will provide a complementary offer for those wanting the added convenience of close proximity to the terminal.”