Londonderry-based transport firm Airporter has announced a £1 million investment in a new, purpose-built facility and hub as the company expands.
Founded in 1996, Airporter now runs 30 journeys a day to Belfast International and Belfast City Airport from the North West, carrying around 155,000 passengers per year.
In the last four years employee numbers have trebled with 30 drivers working for the company and 15 buses on the road every day.
The company has grown from just two drivers and two vehicles, carrying 5,000 passengers in its first year in business. It now has a fleet of 21 vehicles.
The new 14,000 square foot hub on a 2.5-acre site regenerates the former site of the old Lough Swilly Bus Company in Springtown Industrial Estate and is the result of a six-month development plan, kick-started by a doubling of passengers in recent years.
The hub includes on site servicing, fuelling and bespoke bus washing with a range of new driver training and rest facilities.
Previously the company has invested heavily in digital technology which allows passengers to book tickets 24 hours a day from anywhere. Airporter bookings are almost 100% booked online.
The announcement comes amidst a backdrop of concerns around the potential risks of Brexit and the lack of investment in infrastructure in the North West but there has also been reason for optimism after work on the A6 between Dungiven and Londonderry began, which should see travel time reduced once complete.
Jennifer McKeever, Director of Airporter said: “This investment represents a real statement of intent for us at Airporter. Our expansion reflects our success and the growth in the number of passengers so far.
“We now have a purpose-built facility fitted out to provide our team with a working environment which reflects the volume of business we do. This shows that as a company we’re always looking towards the future, we’re always looking to do better.
“The investment in the site will allow Airporter to deal with anticipated future growth in demand but also represents a considerable investment in human resources from a company that already puts a strong emphasis on employee training.”
“It’s also entirely necessary because demand keeps growing and that’s only going to continue. Last year was a record year for tourism in Northern Ireland and more and more people are coming to explore the North West.
“The recent work that has started on the A6 will only make it easier for people to travel to and from the North West and the two main airports in Belfast. We expect that more and more people will use the service as the travel time will reduce even further once complete.”