Passenger Numbers up by 75 per cent

Almost 400,000 people passed through the terminal in the last financial year

Passenger numbers are soaring at Exeter International Airport, according to the latest figures. The number of travellers boarding or disembarking a plane at Exeter Airport is up by around 75 per cent compared to 12 months ago. Almost 400,000 people passed through its terminal in the last financial year, and 123,100 have already used the airport since the start of April, with the busiest months still ahead.

Managing director Geoff Myers said that it was an exciting time for everyone involved in the city’s aviation industry. Last month East Devon District Council gave outline planning permission for a £20 million new terminal which will have the capacity to cope with two million passengers a year.

It is hoped the terminal will be completed by 2008. Mr Myers said that he was delighted the airport was already ahead of its target of attracting 65 per cent more passengers for this year.

On current projections, it is anticipated around 700,000 people will have passed through the terminal by the end of the financial year.He said: “We have had a very significant increase in passenger numbers because of flybe and its new services as well as an increase in chartered services. “Flybe recognised the potential that existed for its new low fare services at Exeter Airport. It’s fantastic to see the passengers going through the terminal. Our range of destinations is fantastic. “The increase in passengers is mainly explained by the six new routes launched by Exeter-based airline flybe earlier this year. Added to the flybe route map from Exeter were Alicante, Malaga, Faro, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast City.Flybe, which employs 700 people in Exeter, already operated services to Dublin, Jersey and Guernsey from the city. Last week the airline also announced that it would be adding Newcastle to its list of destinations from Exeter.In the next three years, it hopes to extend its destinations from Exeter to a total of 15.

Mr Myers said: “I’m very pleased that Newcastle is coming on stream in October and hope flybe will be looking at further destinations and increasing their frequency. “Its business model is very sound and I’m very confident it has the ability to ensure this continues in the future.”The news of passenger number increases comes in one of the most important months of Exeter Airport’s existence Devon County Council, which owns the airport, has received the recommendations from business advisers KPMG and transport specialists the Halcrow Group on whether continued local authority ownership is the the best way of engendering future growth.The findings, which have not been made public, will suggest whether the airport should be sold in full or in part to the private sector, or operated in a joint venture or through a leasing arrangement.

That decision will also have a significant bearing on proposals to build a new industrial estate on airport land.The Skypark industrial estate would be located on a 35-hectare site and when fully occupied would be likely to employ several thousand people.A spokesman for the county council said: “Devon County Council can confirm receipt of the KPMG report.”Councillors and officers on the Exeter Airport steering group are now considering the recommendations before a final decision is hopefully made at the council’s executive meeting on June 29.”