In November Bristol Airport will be submitting an application to North Somerset Council that will enable the airport to develop their infrastructure which will support an increase from 10 million to 12 million passengers a year, just the first stage of a long term plan to increase capacity to 20 million passengers. The airport already brings huge benefits for Bristol and the wider West of England region and I am really supportive of their application for expansion. It is worth noting some standout facts and figures:
- The airport employs nearly 4,000 people on site, a substantial proportion are from Bristol and in particular south Bristol
- Within the West of England, through trade and knock on impacts the airport supports a further 5,850 indirect and induced jobs and generates £675 million of Gross Value Added (GVA)
- The GVA figure is estimated to increase to more than £2.9bn across the wider region by the 2030s based on forecast demand for air travel
- One in five businesses in the West of England say Bristol Airport is a key factor in their location (according to a Business West survey), and research (by Price Waterhouse Coopers) has shown a direct link between international connectivity and foreign direct investment
- More than one million journeys a year are made by business passengers, more than one fifth of whom are from overseas. Around half the business passengers using Bristol Airport begin their journey in the West of England, with the majority coming from Bristol itself
- The airport route network (more than 120 destinations in 34 countries, including 18 capital cities) enables Bristol based companies to easily access international markets, either to seek out new business opportunities to build on existing relationships. The airport makes Bristol more attractive for inward investment, and as a place to live and work for people from all over the world
- Around one in five passengers using Bristol Airport are overseas residents, travelling from more than 80 countries and spending a total of £75 million per annum in the Bristol area
- In addition to the economic benefit the airport also of course allows Bristolians to holiday and enjoy trips away to destinations across Europe
I met with the new CEO of the airport recently and they talked us through their plans for expansion and importantly that expansion is 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 the airports 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 1 Carbon Accreditation from the independent Airports Council International.
In addition, by improving the services offered, Bristol Airport can reduce traffic forced to travel to larger airports for other flights. Currently every year almost 8m passengers from the south west fly from London Airports, by expanded how many passengers the airport can handle to 12m passengers and in time 20m it will mean far fewer long car journeys from the south west to London airports.
We also talked about future transport links from the city to the airport. 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.
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.