The owners of George Best Belfast City Airport are set to spend millions of pounds over the next two winters, with a new multi-storey car park on the cards following a £15m investment in its terminal.
The new-look terminal building includes upgrades to the departures lounge, new retail outlets and refurbished bars and restaurants.
The airport has said its new security area will also reduce the average queuing time to just six minutes.
Speaking yesterday, the airports chief executive Brian Ambrose confirmed that just two years after its takeover, 3i Investments is preparing to invest millions more over the next year.
A £1m spend on the airports car parking has already been signed off for this winter, with a multi-million investment planned for next year.
“By the end of this winter, the car parking that is loose stone will all be hard surface and completely re-marked, with covered walkways installed. It will greatly improve passenger flow,” he said.
“Weve also brought in a new premium product, which is the closest car park to the terminal. Thatll roll out over the winter, then well be gearing up for a major investment in the car park the following winter.
“Were debating whether to go multi-storey or single-deck. We have exhausted the surface space, so we have to start going up – which has the added advantage of covered car parking and in our climate its important to be dry.”
“You have a shareholder who has taken a long-term view. I think this is a massive step in the right direction. Genuinely, I think we are up there with any regional airport now,” he said.
In a week that has seen Belfast International Airport endure more criticism over the length of queues for its security checks, the City Airport chief executive said: “Whats happening at this airport is really what I am interested in. Whats going right with us is that any business is only as good as its people.”
Mr Ambrose said the new upgrades to the City Airports security, including new loading bays, had made the experience even quicker for passengers.
“The queues have just disappeared,” he said. “What were doing right is putting modern infrastructure in, looking after our staff, trying to make sure that customers have a choice, and if they have a good experience coming through this airport theyre likely to come back.”
The new-look terminal includes more seating and the expansion of retail outlets including World Duty Free, WH Smith and Born and Bred, an off-shoot of city centre gift shop Studio Souk.
Global food and beverage operator HMSHost has upgraded its units. It runs the Artisan bar and restaurant, Starbucks outlet and St Georges Market store.
Jan-Willem Hilbron, senior vice president for development at the company, said it was interested in spreading its presence in Northern Ireland.
“We are predominantly in airports, but we are in train stations as well and outlet shopping malls,” he added. “We have to wait until there is an available space or a tender coming up but, yes, we are interested and we are hoping to invest more in this region and grow our business.”
Unless youve mastered the art of air travel, chances are you dont look forward to a trip to the airport. The lines seemingly never end. Delays are practically inevitable. And the potential to make expensive mistakes lurks behind every bottle of water or Starbucks scone. Airports arent fun in general, but terrible delays, poor amenities, and lousy accessibility make these the worst airports in the United States, according to The Points Guy. The only saving grace is none of Americas worst airports make the list of the worlds worst.
We start our countdown at Bostons Logan Airport. Its a stones throw away from downtown, so its easy to get to, and the amenities are among the best in the land. However, Logan is one of the worst for on-time flights, which makes it one of the worst airports in the United States.
Despite the mile-high altitude and the increased risk of snow, Denver gets its planes out on time. And it has some of the best airport food prices. The one factor that makes Denver one of the worst airports around is its distance from the city. Its nearly 24 miles away from downtown Denver, so getting to and from the airport can be a challenge.
Also known as Baltimore-Washington International, this airport serves both cities, but its much closer to Baltimore. It ranks in the top 10 for accessibility, according to The Points Guy, but the so-so amenities and late departures make it one of the worst airports around.
Its common knowledge that Atlanta has one of the busiest airports in the world, but it also has one of the worst airports in the United States. Its less than 10 miles from downtown, so its easy to get to, which is a plus. But it severely lacks amenities, and youre one of the lucky few if you catch an on-time flight there.
Detroits airport isnt at the bottom of the barrel in any of The Points Guys three major categories, but its not outstanding in any of them either.
Sea-Tac is one of the worst places for delayed flights, which are never good for an airport. Since youre in Seattle, there is a Starbucks in nearly every concourse. However, you wont find much fine dining or even the top airport chain restaurants at Sea-Tac, which hurt its overall amenities rating. The silver lining is that the airport isnt too far away from downtown Seattle, and it has ample bus and rail services to help you get there.
Its easy to see why San Francisco is one of the worst airports in the United States. It comes down to two issues.
As the name suggests, DFW serves both of north Texas big cities, but its hard to get to it from either one. Its nearly 20 miles from downtown Dallas, its further than that from Fort Worth, and there are limited public transit options to get there. Also, delays tend to be a problem. The upshot, however, is the many amenities at Dallas-Fort Worth, including 72 restaurants and two free yoga studios.
Orlandos airport is the airport for central Florida, and every Disney and Universal Studios tourist is probably very familiar with its spread-out terminal structure. The amenities and timeliness arent great, but the real issue is accessibility. Its basically a car, bus, shuttle service, or bust to get there. They built a brand new airport train station that wont have any trains for several years, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Despite some miserable winter weather, OHare doesnt have terrible delays. It actually has more on-time departures than Orlando. However, the big problem is getting to the airport in the first place. If youre heading from downtown Chicago, you either have to drive through some gnarly traffic, or plan for long train or bus rides to cover the 17 miles from the heart of the city.
Not only does Fort Lauderdale have one of the worst airports in the United States, but it also has one of the most hated ones, too. Delays are rampant, the security lines are long, and cancellations are a lot higher than they should be. Plus, the check-in process and baggage claim are less than impressive.
Los Angeles is notorious for its traffic, so getting to the airport is a Herculean feat. Once youre there, youre dealing with an airport that CNN says is eight terminals connected by a traffic jam. If the traffic in and around the airport doesnt get you, then the delays will. Only fog-riddled San Francisco has a worse record for on-time flights.
Newarks airport is tough to get to in New York Citys hellish traffic, and it doesnt have a great track record for on-time flights. Its the second-busiest airport in the area, so youre going to be surrounded by thousands of travel-weary passengers. And while youre waiting for your flight to take off, youre going to be sitting around one of the ugliest airports in America that lacks many upscale amenities.
Getting to LaGuardia and having your flight leave on time is about as rare as a unicorn sighting. The terminal itself isnt winning any beauty pageants, either. Those might be two reasons Donald Trump called out LaGuardia when he remarked about why he hates airports in America so much. However, to be fair to LaGuardia, most major airports in the United States need major infrastructure work to keep up with their international counterparts.
Its ugly. Getting there is hard. The flights hardly leave on time. Put them all together, and its easy to see why JFK tops the list of the worst airports in the United States. Going through this airport on a regular day is bad enough, but things get worse around Thanksgiving and Christmas. The worsening weather plus the higher volume of passengers add up to more delays, which is why its an airport you should avoid around the holidays.