Belfast International Airport is to get a £10m facelift in a bid to make it more user-friendly.
The airport’s Spanish owner abertis said today the investment will update and improve facilities throughout the terminal.
Work will start immediately on moving central security to the departures concourse to speed up passenger movement.
This will be followed by construction of a new two-storey facade at the front of the terminal and a reconfiguration of the duty-free area that will create space for 20 shops and restaurants.
“We will be creating modern, spacious and service-focused facilities designed to make the airport easy and convenient to use,” said John Doran, the airport’s managing director.
Antrim-based contractor Russell Simpson Construction will carry out the redevelopment.
First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness welcomed the announcement.
The Ministers said the investment would enhance the experience of the five million passengers who use Belfast International Airport each year and send a signal to other potential investors.
Mr McGuinness said: “This investment of £10m while 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. BIA may be leading the way but I have no doubt other investors will quickly follow suit.”
Mr Robinson added: “The Executive remains determined that Northern Ireland is a region that can compete on the global stage and attract significant inward investment. The first consideration most investors have concerns the quality of our transport infrastructure. Today’s announcement coupled with redevelopment projects at two of our other local airports I believe puts us well ahead of our competitors.”
Work is scheduled to be completed by summer 2010.
Mr Doran said the work would not affect day-to-day operations or cause disruption for passengers.
“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.
“And those customers are coming from all over Ireland as the airport has firmly established itself as the airport of choice for people living in the northern half of the island”