July 6, 2008

City Airport Plans Expansion


Business leaders in South Devon have applauded the announcement that Exeter International Airport will expand to create 2,000 further jobs.

A draft blueprint has been drawn up, enabling the South West's largest airport to add a further pounds160million to the regional economy over the next two decades.

Nineteen acres of land have been bought by the airport, paving the way for resident airline Flybe to build a centre of excellence and training academy.

The land will be used for new car parking and transportation, Flybe's training academy, plus additional and replacement hangars for Flybe engineers.

South Devon business leaders said the airport's increase in business will attract more tourists to the area.

Christian Seiflow-Moran, chairman of Torbay Chamber of Commerce, said: "Anything that increases our opportunity to get people from the big cities to Torbay is a good thing.

"It's going to be far more viable to attract people here because of rising fuel costs. Foreign holidays are going to be more expensive, so we've got to let people know that if they come to Torbay they will be very welcome.

"Internal transport is important, too. We've got to make sure that Stagecoach is picking people up from the airport and bringing them here."

The airport predicts that up to 2,100 new jobs will be created at the Exeter site by 2030. The plan also indicates the airport's intention to maximise its contribution to the regional economy through high-skill jobs.

Torbay councillor Gordon Oliver, a former non-executive board member of Exeter Airport, said: "It's very good news for Torbay, because our transport connections are appalling.

"We need to work with the airport for our mutual benefit. It's essential that we back the expansion throughout, because our prosperity depends on it."

Exeter Airport said the plans will increase its regional economic contribution from pounds105million to more than pounds264million.

Barry Buxton, chairman of Torquay Chamber of Trade, said: "Businesses will welcome this sort of investment in the region.

"We do have to press on with plans for the Kingskerswell bypass because we don't want to have a great new airport without the road access.

"I was pleased to see that we should get news about the bypass by 2010. Hopefully, the announcement from Exeter Airport will focus the minister's mind about the bypass."

John Spooner, airport managing director, welcomed the support of neighbouring areas.

He added: "Exeter International Airport is determined to develop for the benefit of the people it serves and we hope that local businesses, communities, organisations and individuals will engage in the debate about how it will develop in the future."

The draft plan is available to download from the airport's website at www.exeter-airport.co.uk/masterplan

The consultation period will close on September 30.

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