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Travel
January 2016
Reading time 9 minutes

Voted the Best Large Airport in the UK, Newcastle Airport celebrated its 80th anniversary this year with a £14 million renovation and flights to more destinations than ever before

It’s up and away for 2016.

Whether you’re going on your jollies or heading off on a business trip, there are two things that we all desire from our airport: comfort and convenience. Let’s face it, nobody wants to return from a long flight in the dead of night, desperately yearning for their own bed but facing a three-hour drive back to the North East from a distant airport. Which is why we rejoice that we have such a superb airport on our doorstep. An impressive number of destinations? Tick. Onward connections made easy? Tick. £14 million investment in the departure lounge? Huge tick. For international travel, it’s time to go local.

Newcastle Airport is already a popular choice for European travel. Home to budget airlines like Jet2 and Easyjet, and offering competitive rates to Ireland via Aer Lingus, millions of us choose to fly from the North East each year. And there is good news... It’s going to become even easier for people to reach their favourite European hotspots in 2016 as the airport will be providing even more routes across the continent.

Such as? Well, grab your guitar, pack your cordobés hat and get ready to flamenco with three new routes to Spain. In October Ryanair celebrated their inaugural flight to the idyllic city of Alicante, gateway to the Costa Blanca (which will increase in frequency from three to five times a week in 2016). We’ll all be able to enjoy the sun-kissed beaches of Malaga next summer thanks to their new four times weekly service. If culture is more your thing then you’ll love the new Vueling service to Barcelona. Launching with four special festive flights on 23, 26, 30 December and 2 January 2016, this is the first time Vueling, Spain’s leading low cost airline, have flown from Newcastle. They’ll also be back with four Easter flights (19, 24, 25 and 28 March 2016) so we can all soak up the Spanish masters, before running a twice weekly service (Tuesday and Friday) and introducing an additional Sunday flight from June.

Excellent news all round, but it doesn’t stop there... Importantly, the Vueling service will enable us to connect. ‘From Barcelona people will be able to connect to other Spanish cities like Bilbao, Madrid or Seville,’ David Laws, the Chief Executive of Newcastle Airport, explains. ‘It’s an easy way of getting to lots of different Spanish destinations, because it’s low cost and you can transfer your baggage through with just one ticket.’

Connection is an important focus at Newcastle Airport. Whether you’re planning on visiting relatives in Australia, conducting business in Dubai, or dreaming of walking on the Great Wall of China, they’ll get you there thanks to the huge range of interconnecting flights. Known as ‘hub carriers’, airlines like British Airways, Air France, KLM and Emirates fly from Newcastle to major international airports like Amsterdam Schiphol and then on to countries around the world. ‘With just one stop en route you can get all over the place,’ David exclaims. ‘Actually, there isn’t really anywhere that you can’t get to from Newcastle.’

‘This airport is at the heart of our region and we wanted it to contribute to the regional economy, but we also want to deliver an airport that the people of the North East are proud of’

One of the crowning jewels in their collection is the direct flight to New York, which was introduced by United Airlines in 2015 and will return again in 2016. ‘We worked very hard to encourage people to use it and it has been very successful,’ David suggests. ‘It’s good for the consumer, but it’s also good for business too and a number of businesses used it during its first summer of operation.’ While trips to the Big Apple are exciting themselves, the important thing is that with this single flight from Newcastle to New York, we can connect to over 300 other destinations across America and beyond. Also, in response to customer feedback, the frequency of this flight will be increased from five to six days a week next year too.

Another addition is Newcastle Airport’s new digital platform, Discover The World. ‘We’re creating a new section of the website,’ David explains. ‘At first the customer will see a wall of images of all the fantastic, beautiful places that you can fly to from Newcastle Airport, and then when they click on the image they’ll go through to a page which gives them information about the destination, the flights, the weather etc. You can search on a map, by destination, by airline or by type of holiday. It shows how to get all over the world from your local airport.’ So wherever you fancy for 2016, the world’s your oyster.

Another investment is the £14 million redevelopment of the departure lounge. ‘Our goal is to be the most welcoming airport in the UK,’ David says, ‘and we work very hard to make it an excellent customer experience. We maintain high standards with our air traffic control, runway, instrument landing systems and fire services, but we also want good customer facilities too. We’ve reordered the departure lounge so that it is single flow. After security you come through the new walk-through world duty free shop, before arriving at a central mall with shops, bars and restaurants. It’s all been refurbished with new seating, digital signage and a twinkly star ceiling.’

They also work hard to build up a good rapport with their customers. David gives us an insight into the “Big Six”, a set of customer service principles that all staff must follow, which includes smiling, saying hello, being smart in appearance, assisting customers, resolving issues and wishing everyone a happy holiday. This applies to management staff too, so next time you’re in their airport and you see David or one of his colleagues walking through feel free to wave and share your queries.

All of this adds up to one impressive airport. So much so that Newcastle has just been named the Best Large Airport in the UK by the readers of Which? magazine for the third year in a row. And it’s right on our doorstep. As David puts it, ‘This airport is at the heart of our region and we wanted it to contribute to the regional economy, but we also want to deliver an airport that the people of the North East are proud of.’ We can get on board with that.

For more information about the flights available from Newcastle Airport and to browse the new Discover The World webpage visit www.newcastleairport.com/discover

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