Andrew Bell, Chief Executive of Regional & City Airports (RCA), has called for the government to cut the tax on passenger flights between UK destinations during an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme.
The government is under pressure to cut Air Passenger Duty (APD) on domestic flights – a measure that RCA has long supported.
RCA believes APD undermines the viability, sustainability and potential of regional airports. Historically, regional airports have experienced difficulty in developing new routes due to the size of their catchment areas. However, the advent of low-cost airlines saw many of them experience significant growth as a result of market stimulation through low fares.
This growth was subsequently stifled by a combination of increasing levels of APD and economic downturn which impacted the viability of many newly established services. Consequently, low cost airlines in particular have reduced the level of activity at UK regional airports in favour of placing capacity at larger UK airports or airports outside the UK that are not burdened by APD.
The impact of APD on the economics and demand for domestic connectivity, which by definition requires connectivity between regional airports, is even more severe, with domestic journeys being subject to double taxation whereby the short haul rate of APD is charged twice on a return journey.
RCA therefore urges the government to work towards an APD exemption for airports of under 3 million passengers per annum, with an immediate APD holiday on new routes from these airports to encourage growth and effective use of existing airport capacity.
Discussing recent turbulence at Flybe, Andrew Bell told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “This is a situation that absolutely highlights the importance of supporting domestic air connectivity in the UK, which is vital to the economy and prospects of the regions right across the country.
“From a regional airport perspective, there’s no question that the regions in which the airports sit, that RCA own and operate, and the wider airport network cross the UK absolutely require connectivity.
“Aviation receives barely any support, for example, in the context of the railways and really what this issue with Flybe is focusing on is the absolute importance of supporting that infrastructure.”
Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Today Programme in full via the link below. Skip to 2h:34m:56s for Andrew Bell’s interview.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000d703 (expires 11 February 2020)