OPINION: Airporter: proud custodians of the famous ‘lift’ from Derry to the Belfast airports
With 25 operational years connecting the North West to the Belfast airports, it’s nearly hard to remember what there was before Airporter? The simple answer: nothing!
It is somewhat inconceivable now to imagine but, prior to Airporter, there was no direct
public transport link from the NW to the International Airport. Even more inconceivable is that a journey of less than 60 miles could often take up to four hours on the existing public transport network - but that was the world we lived in then.
As a Derry native studying at an English university in the early 1990s, the importance of that ‘lift’ to the airport was paramount. It was as rare and valued as gold. A ‘lift’ to the International Airport back then had Bitcoin-like value.
Hero status would be bestowed on those brave enough to take on “that road to Belfast” and repatriate the weary traveller returning home. Endless promises would be traded to secure that vital connection home from family members or friends.
As a veteran of that travelling era, each ‘lift’ to the airport became very special. They bookended your overall stay and would create the tone and atmosphere whilst home. We believe the journey is more than a bus connection and that our service connects with passengers in ways other bus routes don’t.
It is with these values in mind that Airporter evolved 25 years ago and we continue to drive the operation at the same highest level. There are lots of stories and facts we could share over the 25 years of Airporter’s history: including the total number of passengers carried - nearly two million - or the number of miles travelled - approximately 30 million kilometres, or travelling to the moon and back nearly 40 times.
But, if we fast forward over the 25 years, which has seen a few global recessions, more than one location change and a global pandemic, we see Airporter operate in a much different world.
The Airporter brand and service are now regarded as a critical infrastructure link to the NW region. We facilitate direct accessibility to nearly 30 UK airports at present and, as we move out of Covid, the same amount again of European destinations.
By spring 2022, the A6 dualling project will be complete and journey time to the airport will be reduced to around one hour, a truly transformational development, both for our overall operation and the NW more generally.
The past 25 years have been an incredible journey for us at Airporter. As custodians of the ‘lift’ to the airport, we look forward to more years of bookending journeys to and from our region. Thank you to everyone who has travelled with us, our staff and colleagues, and to the NW for the ongoing and unwavering trust and support.