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Scotland set to take off with soaring investment

Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports set for makeover: BAA’s three Scottish airports are all enjoying record investment courtesy of their growing and varied markets.

The unregulated environment in Scotland “means we can review our plans regularly to reflect the dynamic nature of the regional airport business”

Derek Hendry

Derek Hendry’s daily commute to work is four times longer than it was a couple of years ago – even though his home, and role with BAA, has not changed. Yet far from complaining about his 90 minute drive to Edinburgh, he is pleased as it is a direct result of BAA Scotland’s unprecedented investment boom.

Basking in a record £75M spend this year on the company’s three Scottish airports – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – BAA Scotland’s development director has moved his desk from Glasgow to the centre of current growth, Edinburgh airport. “I work directly within our airports’ business units, so must move to where the main projects are planned,” he says. “This offers greater flexibility, increased local expertise and better value for money all round.”

BAA’s five year master plan involves a £300M investment in its Scottish airports by 2013, and then a further £200M to 2018. “We couldn’t keep tinkering at the edges: It was time for major expenditure,” Hendry explains.

Spared the constraints of its investment plans being closely regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority – as occurs at BAA’s major southern airports – the Scottish trio operate in “a free market”. “This means we can be more flexible with our investment plans so we can – and do – review our five year plans regularly, refining them to reflect the dynamic nature of the regional airport business,” he adds.

Nevertheless, the Scottish airports do not operate in a vacuum, stresses projects director Colin Crichton. “We obviously have to take account of the needs of our many business partners, particularly our airlines and we try wherever possible to refl ect these in our development plans.”

Frequent meetings with stakeholders provide the mechanism to reallocate capital spend immediately if required. A feared passenger slowdown following the World Trade Center terrorist attack in 2001, for example, led to a year’s postponement of plans for a new multi-storey car park at Edinburgh airport. Ongoing security concerns – including the alleged attempt to target transatlantic airlines in August 2006 – also prompted an acceleration of investment in security infrastructure across BAA’s Scottish airports. This included a purpose built central search area at Glasgow Airport, part of the £31M skyhub terminal extension, the first phase of which will open this October.

With Scotland’s three BAA airports operating independently as regional centres, this carries the perceived bonus of capital planning flexibility, and the seemingly contradictory advantage of Scotland acting as a single geographical work centre with increased buying power.

This economy of scale also allows a sharing between airports of managerial and contractor expertise, exemplified by recent construction of similar £20M multi-story car parks at Glasgow and then Edinburgh. Laing O’Rourke built both, saving 10 weeks and £2M at the Edinburgh project through value engineering. Similarly, with the resurfacing of Edinburgh’s runway this year, and Aberdeen’s in 2009, Crichton forecasts 5% cost savings.

Even more valuable, he argues, should be major risk reduction in the interfaces between daytime aircraft movements and the night time convoy of resurfacing crews. Seconding Edinburgh’s construction and airport operation teams up to Aberdeen will, he hopes, generate considerable benefi ts. “By positioning development and construction teams with the relevant airport’s business unit, we all have a common goal rather than each of us doing our own thing,” adds Hendry.

Until recently BAA Scotland operated many locally managed contractor and supplier framework agreements, with fewer, more local companies than were evident in the English model. Now Scotland’s record airport growth, triggered by a predicted five year 27% increase in passenger numbers to 26.5M across the three airports, has encouraged the Scottish team to seek the collective advantage of adopting the larger national framework as their preferred procurement route. “This allows increased competition and risk sharing with our contractors,” says Crichton.

Edinburgh airport

As Scotland’s busiest airport with 9.1M annual passengers, Edinburgh must cater for a forecast 13M in five years time, levelling to 14M by 2018. It is the country’s major cargo hub with tonnage set to double by 2030. A sizeable business park is now being developed around the airport perimeter.

With an investment portfolio of £150M over five years – and double that over 10 – Edinburgh claims the lion’s share of BAA Scotland’s total £300M five year capital spend. A second runway could be needed after 2020, says BAA.
Major projects:
1. Runway resurfacing £16M
2. Extension to terminal to create new departure lounge £40M
3. Four new aircraft stands across the apron £15M
4. New car rental centre £10M
5. Surface water drainage enhancements £6M

Glasgow airport

Annual passenger throughput at Glasgow was 8.7M last year and is expected to grow to 10.1M by 2013. Investment remains buoyant with £100M earmarked until 2013. Construction of a 15km, £240M government funded rail link from Glasgow city centre is planned to start in 2009.
Major projects
1. Skyhub - two storey terminal extension £31M
2. Two new 8000m2 stands for wide bodied aircraft £4M
3. Taxiway strengthening £3M
4. New aircraft pier £15M
5. Elevated walkway £8M

Aberdeen airport

Aberdeen, with an estimated 3.1M passengers this year, has five terminals but only one for general public use. One of the world’s busiest commercial heliports, it is a European hub for the off shore oil and gas markets. Its £50M fi ve year plan includes provision for a runway extension.
Major projects
1. Runway resurfacing £10M
2. Terminal extension including a 50% larger arrivals hall £5M
3. New two storey car park £5M
4. Realignment of nine aircraft stands across the airfi eld £2M
5. New terminal entrance £2M
6. Runway extension £8M  

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