By Katrina Gilchrist Property Manager
The decision to approve plans for a fuel forecourt and retail outlet beside Park and Fly on Airport Road is proof positive that success breeds success.
Passenger numbers are rising and will continue to do so, and with that expansion will come greater demand for consumer services.
This year, the airport will enjoy passenger numbers ‘north’ of 5 million and the likelihood is that 2017 will see us achieve a new record. Like many other sectors, we weren’t immune to the effects of the 2008 economic downturn. Downturn gave way to turnaround and despite recent uncertain conditions, there are grounds for optimism that the growth trajectory that was so evident over the past twelve months can be maintained.
Moorefield Contracts Ltd., which is based in Dunadry, studied the growth that we have been experiencing and, rightfully, identified a significant gap in the range of consumer services that are offered on the site. There was a crying need for a quality retail outlet and a fuel forecourt facility for motorists.
A site was identified, plans prepared and submitted to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council, which went on to unanimously approve the development. The proposal met all the essential criteria, and now the way is clear for tenders to go out to construction firms. Work is expected to commence in late September and the developer thinks that a Spring completion date for the £2.5 million project is achievable.
This is music to our ears! 2017 will be like no other year at the airport with unprecedented activity levels, characterised by increased aircraft frequency and new routes to important markets. Ryanair will base three aircraft with us, delivering a network headlined by Berlin, Milan and Warsaw. (It already does four-a-day to Gatwick and that is set to increase to five).
The Terminal is busy with commercial outlets reporting impressive double-digit growth. Airside shopping has never been busier and soon, all available units will be occupied. This is a further very welcome sign of confidence, all of it based on passenger and airline growth.
I can confidently predict further good news as we move forward with renewed vigour and determination on that front.