BAA coughs up £11m for Glasgow overhaul

The British Airports Authority (BAA) could find itself accused of favouritism this year, after the aviation giant announced a £11.2m redevelopment fund for Glasgow Airport, less than a month after the Abbotsinch hub struck a deal with US-based firm, Delaware North, to refurbish the airport’s food court.

Glasgow is the BAA’s fourth largest airport in the UK, after Heathrow, Stansted, and fellow Scot, Edinburgh, with annual traffic of 6-7m people. The hub’s main terminal, opened in 1966, retains a number of original features that have become a hindrance in recent years, rather than a quaint novelty. The BAA, says a press release on Glasgow’s website, is proposing a “major” overhaul of the Scottish airport, lasting up to five years, in a bid to modernise the forty-year-old facility.

The heating system, an essential part of huge lofty structures, is to be stripped out, and replaced with an energy-efficient “boiler plant,” costing £2.5m. Old lights and cracked flooring will be thrown out the terminal doors, seating will be replaced, and new retail outlets will be lured to the airport. A total of £4.5m will be spent on keeping travellers warm and illuminated while they wait for their flight.

On the airport’s ‘airside,’ preparations are being made to modify the taxiway. Glasgow has not mentioned what form the £2m upgrade will take, but it is likely that existing surfaces will be re-laid, possibly to accommodate heavier, ‘greener,’ aircraft. Runway approach lights, which assist inbound pilots, will be refurbished, whilst a number of aircraft stands will also receive makeovers, making loading and unloading faster.

Amanda McMillan, chief at Glasgow Airport, noted that the BAA’s multi-million pound investment would be spent on ensuring the “smooth, efficient operation” of airport business, and helping travellers to “relax” before their flight. However, it is likely that the BAA’s generosity is designed to bring Glasgow back ‘up to scratch.’ The airport lost around a million passengers during 2009/10, due to snow, volcanic ash, and the recession.

“We have continued to invest for the long term,” explained Amanda McMillan. “I am confident that we will see a return to growth in 2011.” Glasgow’s mission has been bolstered by the announcement of a “massive” expansion by Leeds-based carrier, Jet2, and extra flights from Icelandair and Thomas Cook, among others.

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