France’s Bordeaux Airport, which claims to be creating the first purpose-built budget terminal in Europe, has received early expressions of interest from a number of low-cost carriers including EasyJet and Ryanair.

The new 4,000m2 (43,056ft2) terminal, which represents a €5.5 million ($8.7 million) investment, will accommodate up to four aircraft simultaneously and will have a maximum capacity of around 2 million passengers. The simple, single-story terminal will be Bordeaux’s third and will use the airport’s existing road access.

Construction work is due to begin around February 2009, with completion slated for early November 2009.

Speaking to ATI during the French Connect Low Cost Forum in Courchevel, Bordeaux Airport development director Jean-Luc Poiroux said: “Two or three airlines have reacted so far. EasyJet is the main low-cost carrier in Bordeaux and they reacted immediately, saying that they were interested. They have sent us a letter.

“Ryanair immediately sent us an e-mail, saying they wanted to speak with us. They don’t have an existing operation [at Bordeaux], but they operate to just about every airport in the vicinity. We know that Germanwings and BMIbaby would be interested and we haven’t had contact with the others.”

He says the design of the new terminal will be “very, very basic”, adding that every step of the process will be done by the passenger. Airlines will use manual boarding systems, passengers will have to carry luggage to a central collection point and there will be no air bridges.

Poiroux declines to comment on the charging structure for the new terminal, but he adds: “From 1 July 2008, the basic passenger service charge at Bordeaux will be €4.88. You can imagine that it will be lower than that.”

Bordeaux’s existing budget carrier users include Aer Arann, Easyjet, Aer Lingus, BMIbaby, Flybe, Germanwings, MyAir, Atlas Blue, FlyNordic and Norwegian.

Poiroux says: “All of them have the potential to use this terminal building. The airlines which are already present on the airport in the summer of 2009 will have an advantage to be transferred into the terminal when it opens.”

Marseille and Lyon also have budget terminals, but Poiroux says: “Marseille and Lyon were refurbished from existing terminals. In Bordeaux it will be something totally new, from scratch. It is the first time a big airport in Europe is building something [for this purpose] from scratch. This is new in France, but also in Europe.”

Bordeaux, having undergone a change of statute in May last year, is 60%-owned by the French Government. A further 25% is held by the local chamber of commerce, while the remaining 15% belongs to the local region.

Poiroux says the airport’s shareholders authorised the budget terminal project on 25 March. He adds: “It is the Government who decided [to create the new terminal].

“The Government has validated the project, making a point and taking a very strong position. At the same time a message has been sent by the Government to the various parties which could be against the project."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news