The Regional Gateway team take a look at the latest happenings across airports serving business, regional and low-fare routes.

Following the news last week that European airports are experiencing a slowdown in passenger traffic, you may be excused for feeling somewhat blue.

Despite the challenges, there is a glint of sunshine through the clouds as a number of airports, in Europe and worldwide, have launched ambitious plans this week to accommodate growth and boost passenger numbers.

Aiming to create the “best airport experience in Europe,” Malta International Airport has launched a “radical” programme for development, addressing the airport’s continuing traffic growth (the airport saw passenger figures rise 7.4% in 2019).

Plans include a major expansion of the terminal floorspace, with the designs set to draw inspiration from the clear sea and skies of the Maltese Islands.

Across the pond in Arizona, the Prescott Regional Airport – Ernest A. Love Field has begun construction of a new $13.9 million passenger terminal to replace the current facilities built in the 1940s. The airport has recorded a “dramatic” increase in passengers opting for commercial air services since SkyWest Airlines, operating as United Express, began service in August 2018 – with more than 73,000 passengers utilising the service since then.

Once built, the new terminal will enable the airport to continue serving the current commercial air service but has also been designed to allow for simple expansion to accommodate future growth.

Finally, the sun appears to be shining for Bern Airport in Switzerland as it looks ahead to the anticipated summer launch of start-up ‘virtual airline’ flyBAIR.

Following the collapse of Swiss regional carrier SkyWork Airlines in 2018, the airport has faced a rocky few years with the loss of scheduled flights. The carrier was based at Bern Airport and flew to 19 European destinations.

Bern Airport holds a majority share in the flyBAIR start-up, which plans to market flights from Bern to holiday destinations around Europe.

The start-up aims to run a “lean operation” and has partnered with regional carrier Helvetic Airways to operate the flights. The airline has been supported by crowdfunding, securing over 1,300 shareholders and has also received strong interest from the Swiss population, with flight bookings “over expectations”.

Having secured the co-operation agreement with Helvetic, the start-up airline appears to be moving closer to its summer launch, while Bern Airport is one step nearer to seeing scheduled flights once again.

It may not have been a smooth journey for the Swiss airport and there may yet be challenges ahead, but it is cheering to see regional airports, airlines and the communities they serve pulling together to secure links to the world.

And finally… It is with a heavy heart that we bid a fond farewell to our esteemed Senior Reporter Kimberley Young. She has worked tirelessly across the Regional Gateway portfolio over the past two and a half years and has been an asset to the team. She will be sorely missed and we wish her the very best going forward.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the Regional Gateway e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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