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The recent re-opening of Carlisle Lake District Airport has highlighted a growing investment programme at UK regional airports which is landing some significant new airport construction opportunities.

Over and beyond the construction work worth £14 billion which a fourth runway at Heathrow would bring, the expansion of regional airports to cater for growing air passenger numbers is creating a promising source of new airport construction opportunities.

In a mark of the aviation sector’s growing significance for the industry, the Civil Engineering Contractors Association recently set up an airport expansion group for its members. Following Brexit, the association expects work on expanding airports to form a greater share of its members’ workload.

The association’s chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Currently the UK loses an estimated £1.2 billion a year because of its shortfall in airport capacity, and airport expansion in the coming years will be key to ensuring the UK remains an attractive place to do business and to visit.”

Airport construction boosts order books

Construction work on new airports has provided a boost to order books in recent months. When Severfield, the UK’s largest steel fabricator, unveiled its results recently, the highlights of its growing order book included a large project at Heathrow and a car park development at Manchester Airport.

New car parking capacity is a key theme in the growth plans at regional airports. Glenigan Construction data shows that detailed plans have been granted and tenders returned on a £6 million long stay car park with 2,700 spaces for MAG Developments, part of Manchester Airport Group, in Altrincham. It is part of a combined bus and transport service centre and work is set to start in autumn 2020 and continue for 12 months (Glenigan Project ID: 15046110).

Elsewhere, in the North West, work has recently started on a new £2 million aviation hangar at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool where Williams Tarr & Co. is the main contractor (Glenigan Project ID: 18175875).

Meanwhile, at Gatwick Airport, Kier Construction (Southern) has recently been named as the civil contractor on £6.5 million refurbishment of the airport stands. Work is set to get underway on the project later this summer and last for 15 months (Glenigan Project ID: 18415700).

Expansion through frameworks

Much of the construction workload on airport expansions will be let through frameworks. MAG Airport is setting up a large £700 million major capital works framework which will involve projects valued at £3-10 million at its airports at Manchester, East Midlands and London Stansted. Tenders have been returned and the framework is set to start this autumn and run for 60 months (Glenigan Project ID: 19074348).

There are also opportunities on smaller projects. Birmingham Airport is setting up a £5 million framework to cover small and intermediate projects for its expansion which is due to start later this year and continue for 60 months (Glenigan Project ID: 18355434).

Although Bristol Airport has recently had a planning application for a £22.24 million extension refused, it harbors ambitions to expand its capacity from 9 to 12 million passengers pa which will involve some significant construction contracts.

In the meantime, tenders have recently been returned on a £9 million New walkway at Bristol Airport, where work is set to start early next year and continue for 24 months (Glenigan Project ID: 19109684).