TRANSPORT chiefs have unveiled a £3.2m investment to extend Newcastle International Airport for the first time since 2004.
Plans show how the terminal will be transformed with a new 5,000sq ft annex which will house the new security checks, vastly cutting the time passengers spend queuing.
Work will begin on the three-storey extension as early as next month, with the project scheduled for completion in spring next year.
North East business leaders welcomed the investment as a timely vote of confidence in the region’s economy.
In total the new build will provide an extra 5,242sq ft of terminal space, which will mean the current number of baggage screen lanes can be doubled to 10. Passengers will pass through the new facility, equipped with the latest in safety and security scanning equipment, on their way to the departure lounges. The move will also allow the arrivals area of the terminal to be redeveloped in partnership with UK Border Agency next month.
The number of passport examination desks will be increased from four to six in time for December.
Airport chiefs have already promised the work will be carried out in phases.
Dave laws, chief executive at Newcastle International, said: “Despite these challenging times, we are investing in the business and, in turn, the wider region. The extension will create an excellent platform for future growth and development.
“We hope these improvements to our security process will make a positive difference to our customers travelling through the airport, for them to experience an enjoyable journey is a priority for us.”
North East business bosses have said investment in the airport is key for securing the international trade and links, key to financial recovery and stability. The extension comes after work to refurbish the departure gates and ahead of plans to change features such as signs throughout the airport.
Mr Laws added: “We are keen to ensure that the passage through Newcastle Airport is efficient, meets high standards of customer service, and is carried out in line with regulatory requirements.
“As a business, we must be competitive. By delivering an efficient range of facilities, and a fantastic service, we hope customers should never need to travel from any other airport.”
The modern extension, which will be housed at the Metro end of the airport, has been designed by David Coundon, architectural director at North East design agency Space.
He said: “We are extremely proud to be part of this project at Newcastle Airport, the first major building extension since 2004.
“The new build accommodates a complex mix of uses within a relatively modest area, our design must satisfy strict functional requirements whilst being energy efficient and aesthetically appealing.
“Our solution is to create a dynamic extension that envelops the Metro pedestrian link bridge in order to present bold new facades to the southern and western approaches to the airport.
“This creates a new architecture that sits comfortably beside both the original white tiled terminal building and the later green tinted sloping façade. Once complete, customers travelling through the security search area will experience a light and spacious environment.”
BAM Construction Limited is the main design and build contractor and will work with a variety of consultants to deliver the new extension.
James Ramsbotham, chief executive of the North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC), said: “Newcastle International Airport has invested heavily over a number of years to improve its infrastructure and to improve the passenger experience. These improvements have made a marked difference for people flying into and out of the region.
“This latest investment will build upon what is already a first-class customer experience as it will move people through security checks more swiftly which will undoubtedly be warmly received by all who fly from Newcastle.
“Our region’s airports are a vital cog in our links with global markets and the more that is done to make the North East attractive to travellers, the more appealing the region as a whole becomes for inward investors.”