Low-cost air travel is giving a new lease of life to regional airports. As the London hubs continue to overflow with flights, runways in places such as Bristol and Manchester are absorbing the overspill.
Many travellers are choosing to fly from their local airport instead of trekking to Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton or Stansted – and they are enjoying a much more relaxed experience.
So where are the UK’s key regional airports and what do they offer?
A new X-ray machine has been installed that will be followed by a £3.2 million investment in the security areas, set for completion in summer 2008.
Park and Go has introduced a meet-and-greet parking service, with prices starting at £45 for three days.
Fly to: Scheduled airlines include Aer Arann, Air France, Continental, easyJet, Flybe, KLM, Ryanair and Skybus.
Operators fly to 17 destinations in the UK (including Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast) and the Republic of Ireland, a range of European airports and long-haul destinations including four African cities, two in the Caribbean and New York.
New routes: Ryanair is to operate 13 new routes this winter: Katowice, Poznan, Rzeszow and Wroclaw (Poland); Riga (Latvia); Porto (Portugal); Milan and Turin (Italy); Dinard (France); Bratislava (Slovakia); Budapest (Hungary); Londonderry and West Knock (Ireland); and Salzburg (Austria), plus Bergerac, Beziers and Pau in France from May 2008.
Air France has introduced three flights a week to Paris, while Goldtrail has added an extra service to Turkey.
Snowjet is offering flights once a week to Chambery (France) for the ski season from December 22. The service ends on April 12 2008.
Where to stay: The Holiday Inn Bristol Airport is three miles from the airport and has a restaurant, lounge and parking for guests. Twin and family rooms are available from £59.95.
CardiffA new baggage carousel has been introduced, while a new road access and exit, in reaction to the Glasgow car bomb, has been set up.
Parents of young children can now buy baby milk in the departure lounge to get around the issues that limit the volumes of liquid that can be taken through security.
Fly to: Cardiff serves 400 destinations with UK flights to Belfast, Cork, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Jersey, Newcastle and Anglesey. Popular European destinations include Alicante, Barcelona, Murcia and Malaga (Spain); Faro (Portugal); Fuerteventura, Tenerife, Lanzarote and Las Palmas (Canary Islands); Funchal (Madeira); Geneva (Switzerland); Innsbruck (Austria) and long-haul direct flights including New York and Toronto.
New routes: Thomson will introduce several new routes from May 2008, including Cephalonia (Greece) and Sharm el-Sheik (Egypt). Goldtrail has added weekly departures to Antalya (Turkey) which begin August and end in October.
Where to stay: The Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Airport offers 111 rooms, a bar and restaurant. An eight-day park-and-fly stay costs from £85.
Wind turbines will be introduced at the airport by spring next year to generate 10% of the energy used in the terminal.
Passengers can get the latest information on public transport, fares and timetables to get to and from the airport from skylink.co.uk, which also has a members’ club that offers discounts.
Fly to: Flights serve more than 90 destinations in Europe, Africa, the Caribbean, North America and Mexico, with most major airlines and operators, including Airtours, Crystal, easyJet, First Choice, Inghams, Ryanair, Sovereign, Thomas Cook and Thomson.
New routes: Ryanair is adding Cork, Tenerife, Alicante, Belfast and Poznan this winter, while reintroducing Salzburg and Grenoble. First Choice has added Goa, while budget airline Sterling plans to fly to Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, Thomson Ski has added Innsbruck and easyJet will fly to Palma from February.
Where to stay: The 164-room Thistle Hotel East Midlands Airport is on site. It has a restaurant and health and leisure club. Park-and fly-options start at £84 per room.
Meteor now offers meet-and-greet parking, with prices from £24. The service is also available at Gatwick, Heathrow and Birmingham airports, and Meteor is looking to expand across the UK.
Passengers can get to the airport from Manchester Piccadilly 24 hours a day after Stagecoach launched a night-time service that runs every 30 minutes.
Terminal One is having a £35 million investment boost that will create one of the biggest airside shopping facilities in the UK.
Fly to: The airport offers flights with 95 airlines and 300 operators serving more than 180 destinations.
New routes: New carrier Eastern Airways will travel to Stansted from October 28 with three flights a day during the week. Thomsonfly has added Tel Aviv to its destination list.
Where to stay: The Radisson SAS Manchester Airport is linked to the airport by an undercover walkway. The hotel has 360 rooms, an award-winning restaurant, gym, sauna, steam room and pool. Prices start at £165 per room, including seven nights’ parking.
An £8 million control tower, sponsored by Emirates, opened recently. A 187-room, four-star Ramada hotel is being built at the front of the terminal building and a petrol station will be open soon.
WHSmith and Alpha Toys and Confectionery have opened in the security area of the airport.
Fly to: Flights cover destinations in the UK, Europe, North America, Canada, South America, the Caribbean, Africa and the Middle East. Carriers include easyJet, Jet2, Flybe, British Airways, Ryanair and Canadian Affair. Operators include Thomson, Airtours and First Choice.
New routes: Eight new routes were launched in the summer including Galway, Limoges, Copenhagen, Luxor and Dubai.
Aer Lingus flies daily to Dublin while Emirates has unveiled the first long-haul flight from Newcastle with a daily service to Dubai. New flights to Cancun, with Thomson, and Punta Cana (Dominican Republic), with Thomson, Airtours and Thomas Cook will be added next year.
Where to stay: The three-star, 100-room Britannia Hotel Newcastle Airport is within the airport grounds. There is a gym and a carvery restaurant. Prices for accommodation and seven nights’ parking start at £89 per room.
A £2.5 million investment in security facilities, X-rays and additional security staff aims to get 95% of passengers through security in less than five minutes.
A £42 million investment package has focused on terminal development, with £4 million invested in new aircraft stands for international flights and £5 million in a new food court before the security checkpoint.
Fly to: More than 40 airlines fly to 90 destinations from this, the busiest airport in Scotland. Domestic carriers include British Airways, easyJet, Flyglobespan, bmi, Flybe and Jet2. International airlines include Continental, Delta Air Lines, Aer Lingus, Centralwings, KLM, Lufthansa and Finnair.
European destinations include five in Spain as well as Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Dublin. Domestic routes include Birmingham, Belfast and Bristol. Long-haul flights go to New York and Toronto.
New routes: New destinations for winter 2007 include Sharm el-Sheikh, Las Palmas, Madeira and Grenoble (Flyglobespan); Cracow, Gdansk (easyJet); Poznan and Szczecin (Centralwings).
In 2008, Jet2 is launching flights to La Rochelle and Toulouse, Flyglobespan is adding Paphos to its routes and Delta will fly to New York JFK.
Where to stay: The four-star Hilton Edinburgh Airport at the entrance to the airport has 150 rooms, a restaurant and leisure facilities that include a 17-metre pool and steam room. Prices in a standard room with eight days’ free parking lead in at £144.