11 Apr 2014

Airport announces multi-million pound departure lounge development

DATE: 11-04-14

Works set to transform the airside experience for passengers

Newcastle International Airport, the region’s largest airport, has today (Friday 11 April) announced a major development of its departure lounge, with a total investment of over £14 million.

The airport, which aims to be the most welcoming in the UK, formally outlined its plans to reshape the airside experience for passengers, which will see the entire departure lounge transform over the next year. As well as offering new shops, restaurants, cafes and bar areas, the departure lounge layout will be changed in order to provide a more straightforward journey for customers.

The first phase of the development is now complete, with The Beer House, Flying Hippo, and Aspire Lounge open for passengers from April 2014. The next major phase will begin in autumn 2014, with most work expected to be completed by May 2015.

Highlights still to come include a new walk-through World Duty Free store and exciting new food and beverage outlets, soon to be announced. Customers will benefit from an improved sense of flow as they pass through the curved walkways, seating areas and streamlined shop fronts of the new departure lounge.

Dave Laws, Chief Executive at Newcastle International Airport, said: “The departure lounge development will completely transform the airside experience for our customers. Alongside our business partners, we’re investing a total of £14 million to ensure customers have the best possible journey through the airport. Our passengers’ holidays start here at the airport so it’s very important to us that we give them the best possible experience. We also cater for many business travellers and we are always striving to meet their specific requirements.

“We are confident that the new layout will be more intuitive and will help passengers to make a more informed choice on where they shop, eat, drink or simply relax before their flight. The departure lounge will have a modern and vibrant shopping centre feel - something that we know from feedback is what our customers want. We are meeting the needs of the modern traveller with excellent facilities and there will be plenty on offer for families, couples, groups and business travellers alike.

“Existing brands such as WHSmith, Boots, Travelex, Accessorize and Traveller will move into new stores, while a host of additional new brands will join us before the project is finished in summer 2015.

“The first phase of the development is now complete. The Flying Hippo has opened to great feedback from passengers who enjoy the sense of fun and exceptional food. The Beer House also welcomed its first customers recently and is very popular with passengers wishing to sample some of the best local beers on offer.

“In addition, we recently opened the doors of our new Aspire Lounge which is the largest in the UK. The Lounge is available for all passengers. We are also the first in the country to have an AspirePlus Lounge which offers an adult only area with an enhanced menu, premium drinks package and exclusive Spey Whisky bar.”

Gill Caleary, Commercial Director at Newcastle International Airport, said: “The development, where possible, will capture the flavours and sense of the North East. We are using local suppliers and ingredients whenever we can to make the customer feel relaxed and at home, whilst showcasing the best of what we have for visitors.”

Cllr Iain Malcolm, Leader of South Tyneside Council and Leader of the LA7 shareholders, said: “This investment is great news for the region. The North East travelling public will enjoy the new facilities as they jet off either for business or that well-deserved holiday. The new development will reinforce Newcastle International’s role as a major regional airport, and a key economic generator for our region.”

David Rees of AMP Capital, said: “This development is an important part of the commercial strategy for the airport. The new departure lounge is a major investment by the airport, and its business partners, for the benefit of passengers. The plans are very exciting and I’m sure the full development will be extremely popular.”

The Flying Hippo

The Flying Hippo is an American-style diner with burgers, sharing pizzas, refillable drinks and even Prosecco on tap!

The restaurant also features an American smoking oven, a first in any airport in the UK, to cook pulled pork and briskets to perfection – currently a very popular food trend.

There are zones for family dining with booths incorporating special Flying Hippo interactive games to keep children entertained, as well as a dedicated children’s play area.

The Beer House 

Lovers of real ale will enjoy the on-tap selection at The Beer House. Ales are sourced from Tyne Bank Brewery and served alongside popular premium lagers, such as Moretti and Pilsner Urquell.

Food at The Beer House is hand-held, featuring pulled pork and roast beef stotties with fresh bread coming from the artisan bakers at the Geordie Bakers.

Lucy Knowles, Chief Marketing Officer for SSP, said: “Creating a restaurant and bar that captured the spirit of the North East and offered food with genuine local provenance was a top priority for Newcastle International Airport. When we were designing the two new concepts, Flying Hippo and The Beer House, we worked with local suppliers from day one. Both our new outlets allow passengers to experience a real taste of the region - from locally produced beers such as Tyne Bank Silver Dollar, to burgers, ribs and bacon from local butchers Manners, and sausages and pork scratchings from Dropswell Farm, County Durham.

“Novel concepts such as smoking ovens especially imported from America add an exciting twist to the menus, and innovations such as Asti Spumante served ‘on tap’ or home-made ‘bar bits’ make Flying Hippo and The Beer House truly exciting places to start a trip.”

Aspire Lounge

The Aspire Lounge is open to anyone regardless of which airline passengers are travelling with, or their class of travel.

Customers can also upgrade to the AspirePlus Lounge, which brings together opulent surroundings with dedicated staff on hand to give passengers the best possible start to their journey.

Shaun Weston, Travel Services Director at Swissport, commented: “We are delighted to be bringing a brand new concept to Newcastle Airport. Both the Aspire and AspirePlus Lounges support the airport’s commitment to passenger wellbeing and we look forward to helping Newcastle Airport achieve their goal to be the most welcoming airport in the UK. The new lounge means that customers travelling from Newcastle Airport can expect exceptional service and fantastic facilities in a comfortable, modern environment specifically designed to meet their needs.”