Nearly a year has passed since the supervisory board at Bordeaux–Mérignac Airport (BOD) signed a five-year strategic plan. Over the past 12 months, a lot of work has already been done to fulfill the airport’s goal: to revolutionize the passenger experience by addressing long-standing issues and capitalizing on its strengths.
Now, the airport is implementing its action plan to transform passenger services with two flagship transformation projects. These are the expansion of the departure area in the ‘billi’ terminal (low-cost terminal) and the construction of a connecting building between Halls A and B. It is anticipated that these initiatives will ensure a seamless flow and create a brand-new experience for passengers.
Cyrielle Clément, Head of Routes Development at Bordeaux Airport, says that the modernization project covers 5 400 square meters and focuses on a number of key aspects including improving energy efficiency and sales efficiency. The airport wants to position itself as a reflection of the culturally rich Nouvelle-Aquitaine region as well as reduce its ecological footprint.
“The proposed offering has been thoughtfully designed to cater to the diverse profiles of all passengers,” she says.
Back in May 2023, when AeroTime last spoke to Clément about the €240 million five-year strategy, she told us about Bordeaux Airport’s work to gradually rebuild its air route network, which it hoped to return to 2019 levels by 2027. Despite ongoing challenges, she says that the airport remains steadfast in its commitment to the established timeline.
“The robust performance of Bordeaux Airport throughout the summer has further bolstered our resolve, filling us with optimism regarding our 2023 traffic target. We are striving to reach approximately 6.4 million passengers, representing about 15% below the 2019 levels but aligning well with the performance of many similar airports across Western Europe and regional France.
“Remarkably, this year, despite challenges such as inflation, geopolitical tensions, and conflicts, travelers have continued to exhibit a strong desire to explore new destinations. It seems that many are choosing to allocate their budgets towards travel experiences rather than other forms of expenditure.”
Over the summer, in terms of destinations, Bordeaux extended its reach by offering 128 direct connections to 92 unique destinations, including the addition of 13 new routes through its collaboration with 24 airline partners. It also achieved a milestone with the highest load factors on record, boasting an average of 82% and reaching a peak of 87%. Between June and September, 2.7 million passengers passed through Bordeaux Airport, a figure harking back to 2017, despite a 20% reduction in the number of aircraft.
“This noteworthy reduction in the environmental impact of air travel can be attributed to the increased occupancy of modern aircraft and bigger aircraft gauge, representing a significant stride toward a more sustainable mode of transportation,” says Clément.
A sustainable future
Named Resources 27, the new strategy’s key business pillars include sustainability and performance, as Clément explains.
“Our vision is to transform the airport into an energy production hub seamlessly integrated into our surrounding community. Leveraging our extensive available surface area is a significant advantage. We aspire to spearhead this transition by providing carbon-free services to our users and promoting efficient energy utilization.”
She continues: “In the coming five years, we have set clear targets, including reducing energy consumption in existing structures and infrastructure by 25% compared to 2019, generating at least 65% of our energy from green sources, establishing a local energy resource industry encompassing biofuel and hydrogen production, cutting CO2 emissions by 40% compared to the 2019 ACA reference level in absolute terms, and achieving ACA 4 certification through a long-term carbon management strategy aligned with the Paris Agreement.”
Proof of the airport ongoing efforts can already be seen in a number of areas, including the introduction of electric scooters and bikes back in March 2023, the inauguration of Tram Line A in April (an ecological alternative to traditional cars and cabs), and 3,000 m² of new solar panels on the P0 car park, unveiled in late September. Regarding the photovoltaic canopies, this green energy initiative is expected to produce 0.6 GWh annually, equivalent to the energy needs of 250 households, and accounting for 4% of the airport’s total consumption.
Meanwhile, Bordeaux Airport has recently announced its winter program which is set to encompass 57 destinations and includes the introduction of 16 new destinations. Making their debut are Dakar in Senegal, Rabat, Morocco, and Bucharest in Romania. An additional 13 new routes from the summer season will be extended into the winter months.
As for future network development, Clément is hopeful about the prospect of reacquiring some crucial destinations in the upcoming years. The airport is looking to re-establish connections with various Eastern European destinations, is expanding its focus to medium-haul, and is exploring opportunities in the Near and Middle East.
Meanwhile, long-haul prospects have captured its focus, with a particular emphasis on securing a direct connection to the United States, notably to New York.
“The demand for such a route has surged to unprecedented levels, surpassing even the pre-pandemic figures from 2019,” says Clément. “This promising trend fuels our confidence in the feasibility of this venture. With airlines receiving an increasing number of A321 LR/XLR deliveries, which are truly game-changing aircraft for cities the size of Bordeaux, we believe Bordeaux is well-positioned to be an attractive choice for establishing this direct connection in the near future.”
She adds: “The exceptional occupancy rates we observed this summer underscore our unwavering commitment to aligning our flight schedule with the ever-evolving demands of our passengers. This achievement highlights the success of our collaborative network of routes, developed in partnership with our esteemed airline allies, catering to both leisure and business travelers. The current trajectory firmly suggests that we are headed in the right direction.”