It’s summertime, and many Bristolians will be travelling abroad to make the most of the holiday season. Every year across the UK, the number of air-travel passengers continues to grow, and Bristol Airport plays a key role in connecting the South West with the wider world. In addition to its transport links, Bristol Airport is a catalyst for future growth and jobs in the local economy.
This summer, more than 20,000 seats are on sale from Bristol Airport to some of the most popular leisure destinations in Europe; an increase of 20% compared to last year. The current route network connects Bristol to 120 destinations, including 18 capital cities, in 34 countries. This is great for people looking for a holiday, but it also enables Bristol-based companies to easily access international markets. As demand for travel abroad grows, Bristol Airport is updating its Master Plan to ensure its long-term development is sustainable. The airport will submit an application to North Somerset Council later this year to increase from 10 million to 12 million passengers a year. This phased increase will make the best use of the existing site while still delivering the services people in the Bristol city region need.
Bristol Airport offers more than just connectivity – it’s a key strategic infrastructure location that attracts investment and provides jobs directly. The airport employs nearly 4,000 people, and in total generates £675 million of Gross Value Added to the economy of the Bristol city region. Forecasted demand for air travel says that by the 2030s Bristol Airport could be contributing more than £2.9 billion GVA across the local economy.
Frustratingly, Bristol Airport remains the only major UK airport without access by either a dual carriageway, motorway or rail link. A study by Capital Economics showed that even a 5% improvement in journey times to and from airports has a significant impact on passenger numbers, potentially generating an additional £1.9bn for the economy. We are working with North Somerset Council, the West of England Combined Authority and other crucial partners to improve the road links. Improvements to the A38 South Bristol Link will expand the capacity of the road network to manage existing traffic and reduce congestion. By supporting the Bristol Temple Meads Flyer service, our public transport links to the airport will offer an effective alternative to private car journeys. Proposals to establish a mass-transit underground system to the airport would create access choices within an integrated transport network.
Expanding the airport must be managed in a responsible and sustainable way. Aviation contributes 2% of all global carbon emissions, and as a city we take climate change incredibly seriously. All development proposals will incorporate an Environmental Impact Assessment to consider any environmental effects. Bristol Airport aims to be carbon neutral by 2030, and as part of its emerging Sustainable Growth Strategy it has received Stage 2 Carbon Accreditation from the independent Airports Council International. By making the most of the existing site before expanding , the airport will help protect its surrounding area, including the Mendips Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In addition, by improving the services offered, Bristol Airport can reduce traffic forced to travel to larger airports for other flights. But the simple fact remains that the airport is necessary for the clear economic benefit and connectivity it brings to everyone in Bristol.
Bristol Airport is an essential part of our economy. Beyond the many passengers who use it to reach their holiday destinations, it is a key part of our infrastructure for Bristol businesses. By responsibly expanding the airport and our transport networks to meet growing demands and environmental commitments, we can provide more jobs, attract investment for the city economy, and connect Bristol with the world.