Airport Profile: Glasgow Airport, proud to serve Scotland

Posted: 9 October 2013 | Amanda McMillan interviewed by Annie McKenna

Glasgow Airport’s impressive investment programme will see the city harmonised with the airport in time for a successful commonwealth Games delivery. Annie McKenna chats to Glasgow’s Managing Director, Amanda McMillan, about the plans.

Glasgow Airport named as one of Europe’s fastest growing airports

Glasgow Airport’s impressive investment programme will see the city harmonised with the airport in time for a successful Commonwealth Games delivery. Annie McKenna chats to Glasgow’s Managing Director, Amanda McMillan, about the plans.

Glasgow Airport has embarked on a multi-million pound investment programme, which when completed will see it enhanced, expanded and improved in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. But while physical and technical modernisations are key for any airport, part of Glasgow’s ambition was to create more – the airport has worked tirelessly in partnership with the City of Glasgow to create a legacy for the city and a lasting gateway for Scotland.

The £17 million investment programme will be addressing almost all areas of the airport with a focus on refreshing the passenger-facing areas, the international arrivals area and the check-in hall. Additional areas being upgraded include the flooring and lighting, as well as a planned expansion of the duty free area and a £1.5 million upgrade to the toilets throughout the airport.

“The priority for us is to look at refreshing passenger facing areas – that absolute point of entry for our visitors,” explains Amanda McMillan, Glasgow Airport’s Managing Director. “The investment programme has allowed us to refresh and develop international arrivals in such a way that it not only meets the current requirements but also creates a legacy for the Games.”

The investment programme has been designed to support the growing dynamic at the airport – incorporating the increase in long-haul traffic the airport has and will continue to experience, as well as the introduction of wide-body aircraft – and will complement the previous upgrades which have been completed over the last couple of years. For example in Q1 2013 Glasgow Airport carried out a baggage system upgrade and has already implemented a sophisticated system in the secondary terminal.

“It’s all about improving passenger experience,” Amanda maintains. “We’ve done a lot already and this stage of the development complements the earlier stages. The last few years have seen a lot of changes air-side, with the security hall expansion and the main lounge development. So now we’re focusing on land-side operations. What we’ll end up with is a very comprehensive finished article across the whole Terminal.”

Most airports carry out a refreshing of their facilities over time. For Glasgow, the responsibility of hosting the 2014 Commonwealth Games undoubtedly provided the airport with an impetus to bring forward the development. The seasonality of the business has somewhat dictated the timescales of the ambitious project – with the design and planning phase being completed over the summer months and the winter months being used to go hard with the delivery of the project following the October peak and ready for anticipated completion in Spring 2014.

Glasgow is no stranger to large events, having previously hosted UEFA Championship, conferences and concerts and the MOBO Awards to name a few, but the Games has provided the city with new opportunities. “Whenever these events happen in the city we work with Team Glasgow to ensure a successful delivery,” says Amanda. “The Commonwealth Games are no different – there’s a challenge and excitement about delivering a Games – whether it’s people arriving, people leaving, handling the excess and oversized baggage…it’s an opportunity to demonstrate our ability to excel when our operations are stretched.”

With around 6,500 athletes from 71 countries expected during the Games, the airport’s operations will certainly be pushed to the hilt, but the airport is ready. Indeed, Glasgow has learnt from the experiences of the London Olympic Games in 2012. “We’ve met with Heathrow colleagues who have sat in on some of the Commonwealth planning meetings already,” says Amanda. “The lesson we’re taking from London 2012 is that you must test your baggage system to the max prior to the event.” Glasgow has an advantage here being used to large seasonal peaks. “It’s not as if we’re doubling our activity the night before,” jokes Amanda. Glasgow is already liaising with the 2014 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee to assess demand and ascertain when the peak days are expected. “It’s about being prepared for the unexpected – airports need that resilience and we will plan for it,” she says.

Tying in with the airport’s facelift was a re-brand. Glasgow’s new logo and strapline – Proud to Serve Scotland – was unveiled in July 2013. “When creating our new identity, we considered the many factors that make Glasgow Airport unique, and the overwhelming theme was that the people who work here see it as more than a job. They are passionate about delivering unrivalled customer services to the millions who travel through the airport each year,” says Amanda. For many visitors, the City of Glasgow is their first and last impression of Scotland, so getting the new brand right was essential. “The concept of our new brand centres on creating a ‘sense of place’. We recognise the need to have a strong, identifiable personality which positions the airport within the region, supports an enjoyable customer experience and gives people a sense of arrival to Glasgow and Scotland – we have a tremendous sense of pride serving Scotland and that is reflected in our new branding.”

What stands out about both the development and the re-branding of Glasgow Airport is the sense of collaboration between the airport and city. “We have been working at developing a fresher, more positive, more collaborative culture across the whole airport campus, with our city partners, and our new branding has brought that together,” says Amanda. It was important for Glasgow Airport to be able to present both the physical changes and the emotional commitment to the city at the same time. “Glasgow Airport does well when Glasgow flourishes and when Scotland does well. The airport is a huge part of Scotland’s success,” she confirms.

So in addition to a successful delivery of the Games, Glasgow is looking forward to creating a legacy. “This is an opportunity to showcase Glasgow and Scotland and the aim is to build on our route network post-Games.” Indeed, it is a fact that host countries often see a halo effect following a successful event delivery, and Glasgow is no different. And aside from the Games, 2014 is an important year for Glasgow, with the Ryder Cup and Homecoming Scotland both taking place and showcasing the city. “I’d like to see capacity uplifts following our 2014 events, particularly among the Commonwealth countries. We’ll also be looking to improve our trans-Atlantic links,” explains Amanda.

Providing an economic contribution to the city, both now and in the future, and a gateway to Scotland; Glasgow Airport has worked hand in glove with the city. Amanda sums it up: “That’s what great airports do – they enable their host city to flourish.”


Amanda McMillan has been Managing Director of Glasgow Airport since 2008. Prior to this she was Managing Director of the former BAA’s Business Support Centre (BSC) for a year, having been Customer Services Director at Glasgow Airport from 2006- 2007. Amanda has also previously held positions as Head of Operations at BAA’s BSC and spent seven years working at drinks giant Diageo plc. Amanda is a qualified Chartered Accountant and is still a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.

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