Touching down after a holiday will be made that little bit easier as the North East's biggest airport makes improvements to its arrivals hall.
Newcastle International Airport says the multi-million pound investment is on course to be completed in June.
The revamp, which began last year, is being carried out collaboration with UK Border Force and will sees the arrivals hall significantly expanded and improved.
Its five new ePassport gates will operate as self-service machines and will use facial recognition technology to verify the user’s identity against data stored in the chip in their biometric passport.
The new ePassport gates will be available to use for all those aged 12 or above holding UK, EEA and Swiss passports.
The extension to the passenger terminal will house 448 sq m of additional floor space for the immigration area, as well as 110 sq m of space at the departure gates, and has been constructed around normal day-to-day operations by County Durham-based firm, Esh Group.
Richard Knight, director of operations at Newcastle International Airport, said: “I’m delighted with how well work is progressing on our improved and expanded arrivals hall and can’t wait to unveil the space, as well as the brand new ePassport gates, to our customers.
“At Newcastle, we pride ourselves on our low queue times across the airport and with passenger numbers through the terminal increasing, this expansion will play a big role in ensuring we can help passengers head home following a wonderful trip or experience all that the North East has to offer as a visitor as speedily as possible.”
Councillor Iain Malcolm, leader of South Tyneside Council, is chairman of LA7, the seven North East local authorities which are shareholders in the airport – South Tyneside, Newcastle, Sunderland, Gateshead, Northumberland, Durham and North Tyneside.
He said: “Passengers are at the heart of this investment.
"The expansion of the arrivals hall, which embraces the latest technology, will ensure that passengers continue to have a safe, efficient and enjoyable experience.
“It’s crucial that we enhance our facilities in line with growing passenger numbers so that Newcastle remains the number one international gateway of choice for people travelling to and from the North East.”
Christina Brown, Border Force assistant director for the airport, said: “Increasing the use of digital technology at the border is part of Border Force’s commitment to improve the passenger experience.
“We must protect our borders, but we also want to encourage people who boost our economy through tourism and business to travel to the UK.
"This means ensuring their arrival in the UK is dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as possible while maintaining the integrity and security of the UK’s border.”
Paul Redman, divisional director at Esh Build, an Esh Group company, added: “It’s testament to the Airport’s commitment to the North East that it has made this investment in its infrastructure, and Esh Group is proud to be delivering such an important scheme on its home soil.
“A project like this requires extensive work to make sure the construction is not impacting on a busy terminal. This build will ultimately help people on their journeys through Newcastle Airport and it’s important that we uphold its reputation as an orderly, efficient airport.”