A MULTI-million pound plan to upgrade the airfield at Inverness Airport has begun.
Regional airport operator HIAL is investing £1.4 million on a project to resurface the airport’s mile long runway, which handles around 31,000 flights a year.
The project will involve replacing 1800 metres of existing tarmac and will extend the life of the runway for a further 20 years.
Work has also begun on a £1.2 million taxiway extension, which will provide a link from the main runway to the site of the Inverness Airport Business Park to open up the area for future development, including the opportunity for maintenance, repair and other aircraft facilities to be based there.
The work being carried out by the main contractor Colas Ltd is programmed to take up to 12 weeks.
The runway resurfacing will largely be undertaken at night to avoid disrupting the airport’s scheduled operations with the connecting taxiway extension being constructed simultaneously by way of night and daytime activity, which again will not affect normal airport operations.
Inglis Lyon, managing director of HIAL said: “The resurfacing of the main runway is a challenging and complex project, particularly given the volume of traffic Inverness Airport handles. However, the runway is one of our most important assets and this essential work will help extend its lifespan and ensure the airport is able to accommodate the forecast growth in demand for air travel.
“The extension of the taxiway system to Inverness Airport Business Park is also a significant investment for the future. It will allow aircraft access to the emerging business park and enable the development of key maintenance, repair and other ancillary facilities on the site.
“We will do everything we can to ensure that both projects are completed on time and do not disrupt normal airport operations.”
David Hastings, chairman of Inverness Airport Business Park Ltd, said: “We welcome this investment in the airport’s infrastructure, which will enhance Inverness Airport Business Park’s appeal to companies looking for an airside base and underpin the business park’s locational advantages to companies across a range of sectors which simply want to benefit from great connectivity.
“Bond Helicopters already operates a new base adjacent to the runway for the north of Scotland’s vital Air Ambulance as well as providing helicopter operational support for the Northern Lighthouse Board. And Bristow Helicopter Limited has recently announced proposals to site its new Search and Rescue (SAR) base in Inverness Airport Business Park’s airside zone.”
The latest investment in the airfield follows the completion last year of an £850,000 project to upgrade the airport’s south apron, essentially the main parking area for passenger aircraft.
The investment means that larger aircraft types, such as the A319 used by easyJet, can now park next to the airport’s arrivals area, allowing passengers to disembark much closer to the terminal. The project also enables the airport to accommodate more long range aircraft such as the Boeing 757.