Page last updated at 10:42 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 11:42 UK

Airport to undergo 10m facelift

Computer generated image of the airport
Computer generated image of the proposed 10m redevelopment

Belfast International Airport is to undergo a £10m investment to improve its facilities.

The privately-funded project will see the construction of a new two-storey glass facade which will create space for more than 20 retail outlets.

The security search area will also be relocated to the departures area to speed up the time it takes passengers to get through the airport.

Work will begin immediately and is set to be completed by the summer of 2010.

Airport managing director John Doran said the redesign would make the airport more user-friendly by easing the passenger flow, as well as significantly improving the retail and catering facilities.

"We will be creating modern, spacious and service-focused facilities designed to make the airport easy and convenient to use," he said.

The privately-funded project will start with the relocation of the central security search area to the departures concourse, a move which airport bosses said was designed to cut down the queuing at security.

That will be followed by the construction of the two-storey glazed facade at the front of the terminal.

This will accommodate lifts, stairs and escalators to reach the departures concourse followed by a redesign of the duty free area to create space for the new retail units.

'Minimum disruption'

Mr Doran said the phased approach to the work meant minimum disruption for the five million passengers who pass through the airport annually.

"The construction will not affect the day to day operations of the airport and we will be taking all the necessary steps to ensure that passengers are not unduly inconvenienced," he said.

"We have carefully phased the work so that even during our busiest summer months, customers will not be adversely affected or delayed as a consequence."

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness welcomed the investment.

Mr McGuinness said: "This investment of £10m, whilst our economy is in a recession, should be recognised as an investment for the future.

"It is a sure sign that Belfast International Airport is positioning itself to take full advantage of the opportunities that will arise when the local economy starts to grow again and prosperity improves."

Mr Robinson said the executive remained determined that Northern Ireland was a region that could compete on the global stage and attract significant inward investment.

"The first consideration most investors have concerns the quality of our transport infrastructure," he said.

"Today's announcement coupled with redevelopment projects at two of our other local airports, I believe, puts us well ahead of our competitors."

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