Bristol Airport looks to land new routes at major gathering of world’s top airlines

April 22, 2018

Bristol Airport and the South West’s top tourist attractions are to be showcased this week at a gathering of the world’s leading airlines.

Airport bosses and representatives of Destination Bristol will meet more than 30 airlines and other travel organisations at the Routes Europe event in Bilbao, Spain, with the aim of growing the airport’s list of destinations.

The two-day World Route Development Conference, which started yesterday, will bring together more than 1,200 delegates from around 100 airlines and 50 tourism bodies.

The conference provides an annual opportunity for the world’s top airlines and airports to explore potential new route opportunities.

Key criteria when considering new services is the economic strength of the region an airport serves, as well as its potential to attract inbound tourists. 

A presentation highlighting the South West’s iconic tourist attractions from across the region, and the benefits of using a regional airport will be shown at the meetings.

The airport, one of the UK’s fastest growing and serving well over 100 destinations, is already progressing its plans for further growth next year and beyond. A range of new services this year means passenger number are forecast to reach an all-time high of 8.6m. 

Bristol Airport business development director Nigel Scott said: “This conference gives us the chance to showcase Bristol Airport and the region to airlines from across the world. It is an important opportunity to develop long-term relationships with potential airline partners.

“By bringing the South West to life in our presentation we hope to create a lasting impression which will encourage airlines to consider Bristol Airport in the future.

“We will also be meeting airlines which already operate at Bristol Airport to discuss additional frequencies on existing services, with a view to increasing flexibility for business passengers.”

While much of the rapid growth in Bristol’s route network over recent years has been through short-haul flights to European leisure and business destinations, airport bosses now believe it is time to revive the link with the US along with other long-haul destinations in the Caribbean, Middle East and possibly even parts of the Far East.

This follows the success of the chartered flights to Florida and Mexico last summer and the launch of a weekly service to the Dominican Republic earlier this month.

The flights are operated by holiday giant TUI using the Boeing 787 Dreamliner – which the airport says demonstrates the potential for even more destinations beyond Europe in future. 

Bristol Airport’s runway is certified for Code E aircraft, a category which includes Airbus’s A330 as well as the Dreamliner. Airport bosses say that combined with its strong growth – it is the only major UK airport to have increased passengers every year since 2009 – long-haul routes are a realistic prospect. 

More than £160m has been spent on new infrastructure and facilities at Bristol Airport since 2010 to take account of a rapid rise in passenger numbers.

The airport, owned by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, is now updating its masterplan to consider how best to meet growing demand for air travel to and from the South West over the next two decades, taking into account the views of customers, employees, neighbours and other stakeholders to shape its future.


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