One year after it opened to the public on August 4, 2016, British Airways i360 has been celebrating a “fantastic year”, with free cakes, a live band on the boarding deck and face-painting for children, plus a free ticket for anyone also marking their birthday today.
In its first year, more than 500,000 customers have taken a flight on the landmark attraction on Brighton beach, which was conceived and designed by Marks Barfield Architects, creators of the London Eye. British Airways i360 has won nine awards and has become the number-one paid-for attraction in Brighton & Hove*, with almost 80% of TripAdvisor reviews rating the attraction as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.
Some 3,000 cupcakes have been baked for the anniversary; staff have been sporting birthday badges and the site is decked with balloons.
Customers on the 2pm flight today, which marked the moment the attraction opened to the public last year, were met by directors David Marks, Julia Barfield and Steve Bax who handed out free drinks from the Nyetimber Sky Bar and cupcakes.
David Marks, British Airways i360 Chairman, made the “welcome on board” announcement, thanking customers. “Exactly one year ago, at this moment, British Airways i360 opened to the public. Since then we have welcomed hundreds of thousands of guests and won nine fantastic awards. As we celebrate the wonderful achievements of the past year we would like to thank you, our customers, for your support.”
After the event, he added: “It has been wonderful to celebrate the achievements of the year with our customers and to hear about their experiences on British Airways i360. There is a lovely atmosphere here today and we are all looking forward to another successful year ahead.”
Naming sponsor British Airways sent its congratulations. Sean Doyle, Director of Networks and Alliances, said: “British Airways i360 has quickly established itself as a great British landmark and a must-visit for overseas visitors travelling to the UK so we’re incredibly proud to be their headline sponsor. Brighton is home to thousands of our customers and colleagues and every year we bring more people to the UK than any other airline so we’re thrilled this natural partnership has got off to such a flying start.”
British Airways i360 was part-funded by a loan from the Public Works Loan Board, via Brighton & Hove City Council. The council earns more than £1m a year profit from the arrangement and is investing that money into regenerating the seafront.
Warren Morgan, Leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, said: “British Airways i360 is a great attraction for the seafront and we congratulate all involved on their first year of operation. This innovative venture has been drawing much local attention and gaining interest much further afield. In the city it’s been great to see all school children given free tickets for a visit up the tower. And the council’s tourism team, Visit Brighton, report there has been great international interest in the i360 with visitors from around the globe coming to see the city from up high. Happy anniversary i360.”
A Visit Brighton spokesperson said: “Since British Airways i360 opened in 2016 we have seen an increase in the levels of press coverage internationally as the attraction has helped raise awareness of the city overseas and has got people talking about Brighton & Hove. We’ve loved working with the team during their first year and look forward to many more to come! Happy Birthday from everyone at VisitBrighton.”
Funding for the project also came from Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership. Jonathan Sharrock, Chief Executive said: "Coast to Capital is one of the key funding partners for the British Airways i360, contributing £4 million through our Growing Places Fund, and we are delighted with its success one year on. It is a fantastic visitor attraction for Brighton & Hove and provides huge benefits to the local economy. The attraction is going from strength to strength and we are excited about what the future holds for this innovative business."
*According to those questioned for the Visit Brighton’s Visitor Survey 2016