Derry-based transport firm, Airporter, has announced a £1 million investment in a new, purpose-built facility and hub as the company expands.
The company’s new 14,000 sq. ft. hub on a 2.5 acre site, will regenerate the formerheadquarters of the old Lough Swilly Bus Company in Springtown Industrial Estate.
The investment is the result of a six-months development plan, kick-started by a doubling of passengers over recent years.
The hub includes on site servicing, fuelling and bus washing, with a range of new driver training and rest facilities, while Airporter’s current facility off Culmore Road will continue to be used for passenger pick-ups and drop offs.
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. Since 2014, employee numbers have trebled, with 30 drivers 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 to a fleet of 21 vehicles.
Previously, Airporter invested heavily in digital technology which allows passengers to book tickets 24 hours a day and bookings are now almost 100 per cent 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 Derry 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.
“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.”