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The £1.5 million refurbishment of Barra Airport’s terminal is expected to be completed in a matter of weeks.

The update of the original beachside terminal will see the building offer passengers better comfort and be more efficient.

Phase Two of the project commenced earlier this week when the new entrance, upgraded cafe and toilet facilities were officially handed over. Work now focuses on the passenger seating area, the Loganair check-in desk and office.

The airport terminal makeover began in September last year, with an expected completion date in June 2023.

Operator Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd. commented: “This refurbishment will improve and expand the building for passengers, visitors and staff. It will also provide better access and provision for Persons with Reduced Mobility.”

Today, the airport terminal, a tourist attraction in its own right, handles almost double the number of passengers than it did in 1978 when it was built. In 2018 Barra Airport welcomed nearly 15,000 passengers.

Among the improvements are the conversion of an existing appliance bay into a new cafe and seating area and a new beachside terrace.

The work was split into three phases to minimise the impact on the terminal operations and passengers.

The lease for the cafe is expected to be let out soon. In the meantime, teas, coffee, drinks and snacks are only available from the airport’s vending machines.

However, one thing that isn’t changing is the world-famous beach landing strip, which has serviced the island, tides permitting, since 1936.

The beach landing strip regularly features on web listings of the world’s best or most unusual airports. It’s also a permanent fixture on the bucket lists of aviation enthusiasts as the airport is widely believed to be the only one where scheduled flights land on a tidal beach.

Last month, HIAL reported a network-wide increase in passenger numbers close to pre-pandemic levels. Barra saw a 9.4% increase to 12,928 passengers for the year.

Across its network of 11 airports, HIAL reported a 38.7% year-on-year increase in passenger numbers for 2022/23. This equated to almost 1.5 million passengers or 85% of the figures recorded before the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent travel restrictions.