Small airport review 
a ‘lost opportunity’

Blackpool Airport
Blackpool Airport
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Failing to offer more support for small airports like Blackpool is a ‘lost opportunity’ one of the resort’s MPs warned today.

Blackpool South MP Gordon Marsden spoke out in the wake of the Government’s response to a Parliamentary inquiry into the role of smaller airports in the UK economy.

He said the Government should do more to help small airports cut their overheads, which particularly in terms of meeting government regulation, are largely the same as those incurred by large airports which handle many more passengers and have the potential to be more profitable.

Mr Marsden said:“The Government has missed an important opportunity for regional growth by ignoring the Transport Select Committee’s call for a proper review that looks at the challenges that smaller regional airports have been facing, and what cross-departmental approaches might be expanded to help them thrive.

“Local airports need to be strongly linked into Local Enterprise Partnerships and other infrastructure decisions in the region, and logistical and regulatory support need to be reconsidered.

“The Government has ignored the potential strategic growth and economic impact smaller airports can contribute, not least on freight and within their regions and sub-regions, as well as the factors that have handicapped smaller airports in terms of the level of operational standards they are required to bear.”

One of the reasons Blackpool Airport had to axe its holiday flights was spiralling overheads required to meet government regulations.

Mr Marsden, who is also shadow aviation minister, added: “Of course safety cannot be compromised but the Government should look at a more tailored approach in terms of charging.”

Another issue considered in the report is proposals for geographic variables in levels of air passenger duty (APD) which must be paid on aircraft carrying more than 20 passengers.

In its response, the Government says: “Decisions on taxation, including APD, remain a matter for the Chancellor and the Treasury.

“The Treasury has confirmed that there will be a review of potential options to support regional airports and mitigate the impacts of APD devolution.”