Belfast International Airport moves ahead with security expansion as passenger levels slowly recover in August

An artist's impression of how Belfast International Airport's terminal will look following the extension.
An artist's impression of how Belfast International Airport's terminal will look following the extension.

BELFAST International Airport has confirmed it will expand its terminal building to facilitate the installation of new 3D scanning technology.

The airport has also pledged to “improve and enhance the customer experience at security”, following high profile issues over delays in the past two years.

It said the new project will allow passengers to pass through security faster, with less inconvenience.

Belfast International announced the start of a public consultation on the expansion plans on Monday as new passenger figures showed it recovered to around one third of normal levels during the month of August.

Covid-19 decimated traffic at the north’s three airport in April, with all commercial airline activity at Aldergrove axed at the end of March. Footfall remained 84 per cent down during July.

New Civil Aviation Authority (CCA) data showed a slow recovery in August, with 215,215 passengers boarding flights during the month, 34 per cent of the 639,333 recorded during August last year.

Numbers are likely to remain well down for the rest of 2020, with the airport's anchor airline Easyjet curtailing its operation. Seven routes have been cut from its Belfast International schedule and ten more delayed, seven of them well into 2021.

CAA data showed City of Derry Airport recorded 9,004 passengers during August, 56 per cent down on 2019.

The 30,243 passengers recorded at Belfast City Airport during August was 88 per cent below August last year, when a quarter of a million people flew.

The east Belfast airport was still recovering from the collapse of Flybe when the pandemic hit passenger levels.

But the recovery is continuing with Aer Lingus, Loganair and Eastern Airways announcing plans to gradually takeover most of the former Flybe routes.

Commenting on the expansion plans, a spokesperson for Belfast International Airport said: “The Department for Transport has mandated that all UK airports are required to install 3D scanning technology by December 2023.

“This new equipment will provide security staff with clear three-dimensional images of the contents of passengers’ bags.

“The proposed extension is not only to accommodate this new equipment but also to improve and enhance the customer experience at security.

“The new extension will allow for a speedier transition through security and less inconvenience for passengers. The extension will be located adjacent to the front of the existing terminal building over two floors.”