Guernsey Airport is situated 4km from the capital of the island, St Peter Port. The new airport terminal building took just 21 months to build and was opened in mid-2004.
The old terminal, which was first opened in 1939, was demolished in May 2004 and the spoil from the demolition was used in the foundations of a new aircraft apron. The new terminal handled more than 900,000 passengers during 2005, but has capacity for up to1.25 million a year.
Although the terminal building was complete in 2004 this was only phase one of a larger plan for the airport. Work then continued on road, drainage and runway improvements, which were completed in 2005.
Phase two of the project involved the construction of additional apron aircraft stands of Pavement Quality Concrete (PQC) on the site of the old terminal, a new cargo service road and a second passenger walkway in the terminal.
A plan for a runway extension was under discussion during 2005 but by December 2005 the Rural Area Plan (RAP) in Guernsey, which is aimed at safeguarding the future of the island’s countryside had voted against a runway extension. By early 2006 an aircraft had overshot the runway and although the reasons were unclear, runway end safety areas (Resas) are back on the drawing board.
Mr Torode of RAP said: “I am wholly opposed to any extension of the runway at Guernsey Airport; It’s a totally unnecessary, unwarranted intrusion into the countryside. Having said that, the provision of proper races – runway end safety areas – are absolutely paramount.”
The airport can handle aircraft up to A320 or 737-400 (reduced payload); capacity is limited by the 09/27 runway length of 1,463m, a situation which is under review. The airport is administered and controlled by the State of Guernsey island authority. The contracts pertaining to the Guernsey Airport terminal redevelopment project were awarded in 2002 for the lowest tender bid of £19m.
The airport terminal was designed by Kensington Taylor of Exeter, UK. The main contractor for the terminal construction was Hochtief (UK) Construction Ltd. Part of the terminal development project was subcontracted to Concept Developments of Swindon, UK, who then in turn used local island contractors for the job such as Paul Rouget Plant Hire and Channel Welders (there was some controversy about sub-contractors not getting paid for their work on the project).
Airport Information Systems Ltd (AIS) supplied and installed electronic information systems for the airport including displays for arrivals, departures, baggage claim and internet services. UK Explorer provided both wired and wireless internet access at the terminal. CopperChase Systems Engineering were contracted to upgrade the Airfield Ground Lighting (AGL) systems.
BAE Systems were contracted in 2003 to survey and make recommendations about the refurbishment of aircraft aprons around the airport, especially in the light of new carriers using the airport and wanting to land and service larger aircraft.
The terminal was designed to accommodate forecast increases of air traffic over a 25-year period, along with a need for improved car parking, bus services and taxi facilities. One of the main design briefs was for aircraft stands (the airport desperately needed additional stands). The new terminal was part of the requirements laid down by the International Civil Aviation Authority for the airport.
The size of the stands was a crucial factor, as they had to be big enough to allow larger aircraft to manoeuvre, yet ensure that tail plane heights were parked below a very strict dimension level stipulated by the Civil Aviation Authority. The stands are thus laid out in a curved arrangement which also allows the segregation of passengers and service vehicles. The design has also allowed the optimal usage of the available apron areas and space for phase two construction.
At the front of the terminal building there are new areas to allow drop off and pick up for cars, taxis and buses. The main entrances to the terminal face the departures and arrivals halls with large circular automatic doors leading into the main concourse.
The concourse is divided between arrivals and departures with the main feature staircase and lifts forming a fulcrum around which the airport operates.
The departures area has a row of 12 check-in desks and there is ample room for future expansion should the need arise.
On the ground floor level the facilities included a new restaurant, toilets, spacious departure hall, large duty free shop, seating areas, information centre, car hire stands, and a single arrivals hall for all passengers.
The first floor is accessed via a feature staircase that wraps around two 13-person lifts. On the first floor is a bridge connection to the main first floor area. Here the facilities include a bar, a café, internet facilities, children’s play area, smoking lounge and airfield viewing area. The terminal also includes covered walkways leading to the main aircraft stands.
In 2005 Guernsey Airport became a ‘WiFi hotspot’ due to a collaboration between Cable & Wireless Guernsey and the Guernsey Airport Authority. C&W Guernsey created a wireless internet access zones using WiFi technology in the main departure area.
The service is provided free of charge, and enables users to go online quickly and easily without the need for wires or physical connection points. The user just needs a laptop or handheld device equipped with WiFi technology.
AIRPORT INFORMATION SYSTEMS
The new terminal incorporated the Airport Information Systems Ltd Synergy / DE-based AFIDS2001 system. This system links to the airport’s existing ALDIS2000 management system and is used for check-in, flight and baggage information plus webpage updater to the official Guernsey Airport website.
The system also includes plasma screens, LCD screens and colour monitors as a Flight Information Display System (FIDS) that will display arrivals, baggage carousel, check-in desk, departure, departure door and gate information.
The system uses xfServerPlus and xfNetLink Synergy Edition to handle client communications with their back-end Alpha server, and xfODBC to enable third-party reporting capabilities by programs such as Crystal Reports.
AIRFIELD GROUND LIGHTING
Copperchase Systems Engineering designed, built and installed the AGL control system in the new terminal building.
The AGL system monitors and controls airfield operations from within the equipment room of the central control terminal and provides Air Traffic Control (ATC) staff with direct control over all aeronautical ground lighting circuits in use at the airport.
The system is Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) controlled and is operated (monitored and controlled) by mimic displays of the ATC lighting facilities on various touchscreens (LCD screen with tactile switch panel); the system is also able to provide real-time ‘back indication’ of AGL status and fault conditions to the ATC and engineering staff. The apron lighting stage of the project was completed towards the end of 2004.
NEW GUERNSEY AIRPORT CONCERNS
In 2008 runway end safety areas are under discussion as is the refurbishment and lengthening of the runway. This is because FlyBe, one of the major operators at the airport, would like to introduce Embraer 195 aircraft on its existing Guernsey routes but cannot because the runway is not long enough (an extension to over 1,700m is required).
The runway pavement classification number (PCN) is too low for the Embraer’s maximum permitted take-off weight and so the aircraft would be under restriction.
The BAe Systems report of January 2003 recognised the need to rectify runway gradients to comply with CAP 168 standards, strengthening runway and taxiway pavements to meet the load requirements of new aircraft and extending the runway to 1,717m as well as upgrading runway safety systems.
The amount of investment to accomplish this in 2003 was put forward as around £21m but this will have increased over the last five years. Currently the best options for the airport are being considered as are potential ways of raising finance.
One bold plan, which has been tentatively mentioned, is to sell the existing airport site and to build a new airport. However this may not be a serious suggestion considering the amount spent on the construction of the new terminal in the not so distant past.