Why is Bristol Airport busy? | Bristol Airport
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Why is Bristol Airport busy?

Bristol Airport’s passenger numbers have recovered faster than any other UK airport, reaching close to where they were before the pandemic. During the past two years, the Airport saw a trickle of customers as covid rules made international travel impossible for most people. Since Covid restrictions were lifted earlier this year, we’re seeing huge pent-up demand for travel as people look to reconnect with family and friends, travel again on business, and take a well-deserved holiday.

30,000 passengers per day

Our passenger numbers are now around 94% of where they were in 2019 – a higher rate than any other UK airport – with up to 30,000 passengers passing through the terminal in a single day. We’ve gone from a handful of flights a day to almost back to normal in a matter of weeks. This is above the industry’s most optimistic forecasts and has presented a real challenge for our operation.

Our busiest time of day is first thing in the morning – lots of people like to take flights that leave between 6am and 7am, so they can make the most of their trips away. Outside of this period we’ve generally not seen long queues for check in and security.

The early morning period has always been busy during the warmer months – in 2019 we saw queues of around 30 minutes at security and up to 45 minutes at check in. But in recent weeks there’s been queue times longer than this on some days and that is what we’re focussed on improving.

Staff shortages

You might be thinking: Bristol Airport had many more travellers before the pandemic, so why is it such a challenge now? Aviation was one of the pandemic’s worst affected sectors – in order to survive as businesses, both we and our business partners (who handle services such as luggage and security) had to make redundancies, but many people also left the industry over the past two years to work elsewhere.

Both we and our business partners are recruiting and training new staff – but this does take time and detailed security checks must be carried out before people can start work. We’ve worked with the UK Government to speed up the process and have increased wages to attract the right people. Recruitment is tricky for all companies right now but we’re making good progress.

What else are you doing?

We need to provide a good service to our customers right now and cannot wait until the new recruits begin work. Our entire management team is going back to the floor, with everyone pitching in to help the Airport run as smoothly as possible – this means helping at security, moving luggage, and parking cars. Over 100 extra people will be working in the Airport.

We’re also working with the airlines to change our schedule – spreading flights out where we can to reduce the pressure in the early morning period.

I’m travelling soon – what’s your advice?

There’re a few things you can do to make your journey as smooth as possible: