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Airline grounds route to Wales only two months after taking off in Norwich

07:00 11 June 2015

The Cardiff-Norwich route will close at the end of the month because it did not make profit fast enough. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

The Cardiff-Norwich route will close at the end of the month because it did not make profit fast enough. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Archant Norfolk.

A new air link between Norwich to Cardiff is to be grounded by airline chiefs barely two months after take-off.

Operator Links Air said it was ending flights between the two cities at the end of this month. But one passenger, due to fly tomorrow, said his flight had already been cancelled.

Bosses at Norwich International Airport said they were disappointed at the closure of the route, which only began operating on April 20.

Roger Hage, commercial manager at Links Air, said because the airline was publicly subsidised for its Anglesey-Cardiff route, under law it had to ensure all other routes were profitable.

“We were treading the fine wire to make this work and it was worth a try,” said Mr Hage. “But we had to break even in the next four weeks and we havent.”

The airline has transported about 700 customers so far and would have needed about 1000 to break even.

Richard Pace, the airport’s operations director and general manager, said: “We are disappointed that the route is ceasing to run. We know there is a need for an east-wesk link among Norwich passengers.”

John Shaw, from Drayton, had booked flights to Cardiff for tomorrow, but discovered “out of the blue” that the route had been cancelled just days before.

“We were due to fly back [to Norwich] the following Friday, but we found out on Tuesday that it had
just been cancelled,” said the 60-year-old.

“It’s sad that another airline is not continuing, but to be honest, I was surprised they introduced that one to begin with.”

Mr Shaw will now have to drive for more than six hours to the Welsh coast, and said he had been fully refunded and apologised to by the company.

The news comes amid a fresh call from airlines ahead of next month’s budget to look again at the controversial airport passenger duty charges on domestic and international flights.

The duty is an extra cost added by government to the flight ticket which goes directly back to the Treasury, initially introduced in the early 2000s to counter the environmental impact of flying.

Airport chief executive Andrew Bell welcomed the call from the British Air Transport Association for a rethink.

“Domestic aviation has really been clobbered as it is being taxed twice. It’s a barrier that is making a difficult business case impossible to justify,” he said. “It is the number-one point of lobbying between airports and government. We would like government to look at least at not taxing twice for return flights, and ideally not at all.”

n Regional airline Flybe, which operates services in and out of Norwich, has insisted its turnaround is on track despite posting full-year losses after it cut capacity and paid high costs to maintain unwanted planes.

The Exeter-based carrier, which flies 66 planes, posted a pre-tax loss of £35.6m in the year to the end of March, compared with an £8.1m profit 12 months previously.

Has your company seen squeezed profit margins? Email jessica.staufenberg@archant.co.uk or 01603772531.

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21 comments

  • I agree with the essential comments here and have to wonder why the EDP don't campaign to get Norwich Inernational flying! The airport simply isn't responding to customers or marketing opportunities. They seem intent on squeezing customers dry of their money via the flight tax because they don't have a viable business model. Passenger numbers are well down on where they were before the flight tax - I wonder why? C'mon EDP make a difference or don't be surprised when it all goes belly up. Time for some local leadership.

    Report this comment

    BureValleyPaddy

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

  • I write this yet again in the hope that I may tip the balance in terms of how many people complain. I do not use Norwich Airport despite living in Cringleford. Very few flights go where I want to go. I won't pay the rip-off exit tax. In any case the cost of flying anywhere in UK or Europe from Norwich is dramatically more expensive than driving to UK destinations or to Luton or Stansted and flying from there. It will never succeed with that price differential.

    Report this comment

    Max Headroom

    Tuesday, June 16, 2015

  • I have to agree with all the previous comments. Better turn it in to a housing estate if there is no chance of it being a conveniant local airport.

    Report this comment

    Michael Clintergate

    Friday, June 12, 2015

  • The airport manager never bothers to read these posts and has no idea of why the services fail. Poor sevice,overcharging and a terrible looking terminal building plus gestapo staff. Then the whole bad experience is topped off with the £10 development fee. The EDP never bothers to follow up why no one wants to fly from Norwich for the simple reason it is an aircraft paint shop and heliport. I can fly thousands of miles from Stansted on what KLM want for the short hop to Schipol.

    Report this comment

    Michael Clintergate

    Friday, June 12, 2015

  • This Airport needs some investment and a company to run it that can move it forward, either that it turn it into a housing estate!

    Report this comment

    dave123

    Friday, June 12, 2015

  • The NDR will kill Norwich Airport, making Stansted less than 2 hours from the whole of Norwich, cheap flights and lots of schedules will win out over convenience. Norwich Airport got worse once Flybe came in with the promise of cheap flights, a flight to Manchester now is more expensive now than when eastern airways was running the route and the eastern airways ticket was fully flexible.

    Report this comment

    Norwichbcfc

    Friday, June 12, 2015

  • hahahaa Iceni Warrior - If only! Unfortunately air travel is getting further and further from hop on hop off. Norwich to London by air - Total travel time 2.5 hours I reckon. probably quicker by car, cheaper too.

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Friday, June 12, 2015

  • Iceni Warrior Says - why is there not Norwich to London flying machine? This would help quieten bellyaching Norwich in 90 whiners.

    Report this comment

    Iceni Warrior

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Don't panic, Roadwarrior is clearly an airline routes (amongst others) expert in the making. Norwich Airport should recruit him for his diverse expertise.

    Report this comment

    NoMicksTa

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • The problem is there isn't a big enough population for the airport to serve even if another low cost carrier were to operate at the airport they'd need huge passenger numbers to make the routes viable. If you live in Thetford it's quicker to get to Stansted than Norwich by the time you've tackled the ring road. This is why Flybe and KLM cost extortionate amounts because they never fill the plane. Unfortunately the airport along with our few bus routes, our poor outdated trainlines and our many miles of single two way road will remain like this for a long time to come.

    Report this comment

    Auldgal

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Oh dear. Looks like the south west isn't very popular with the locals. Take a bit of advice from me, I've got a feeling that Belfast,Dublin and mainland Spain may be more sucessful.

    Report this comment

    Tone the moan

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • @rushallchap ... If you visit Belfast you usually have to come home again!

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • @samphirelover - you are right but who wants to go the other way, i.e to Norwich, obviously excluding your relatives. The route has to work both ways to be successful.

    Report this comment

    rushallchap

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Well what a surprise ..... NOT! Myself and several others predicted on here when the news was announced that Cardiff was not a place people really wanted or needed to go to. I know I harp on about this but why oh why don't Norwich Airport do direct flights to somewhere in Ireland. It is still impossible to go to Belfast, Dublin, Londonderry or anywhere else direct from Norwich. I have relatives who were quoted £300 each to fly from Belfast to Norwich via Manchester and with the check in times and wait at Manchester it was nearly a days travel. Belfast is currently having a boom with the Titanic quarter and all the new businesses so why aren't Norwich jumping on the bandwagon? I just don't get it.

    Report this comment

    samphirelover

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • I think we need a campaign to get RAF Mildenhall converted to the regions Airport. They can build houses on Norwich Airport instead and just keep a heliport for the platforms.

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • There really is little sign that the management at Norwich Airpot have a grasp of the situation. As a regional Airport, Norwich provides a poor service to the residents of Norfolk. International it certainly is not. Customer focussed it is not. I agree with the idea of a poll of potential customers so that the airport can provide flights to required destinations such as Murcia or Alicante. When Flybe attempted Alicante schedules were available months after other airlines, so regular flyers had already booked flights from a real but distant airport, lack of passenger numbers was then the excuse for discontinuing the service. If the airport cannot improve dramatically and immediately it should be placed in the hands of a company who can develop it properly.

    Report this comment

    Union Jack

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Norwich Airport is nothing more than a commuter airport for the travelling businessman, now the A11 is fully dualled and Stansted Airport a mere 80 mins away you have all the choice you need. As for the £10 development fee. . .what development ? Where is this money going ??

    Report this comment

    eaboy

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Oh, well. At least they gave it a go. Well done to airline and airport for trying. If there are not enough passengers using the route it has to go. The Malaga flight on the other hand was always full. Any news on that!?

    Report this comment

    Canary

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Time for new management. Plus time for a online poll to find the top three destinations passengers really want to fly to from Norwich?

    Report this comment

    Resident Smith

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Norwich 'International' Airport is a joke and a disgrace to our fine city. It has a Mickey Mouse destination portfolio and charges exorbitant fares and levies to any one foolish enough to want to use the facility. When will the owners wake up and realise that NIA could become a real asset like many other regional airports if they were only to offer a better choice of destinations that travellers really wanted to go to?

    Report this comment

    Mr. Grouchy

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

  • Someone really did their homework on this route didn't they? BTW still charging the exit Tax, Norwich International Airport?

    Report this comment

    RoadWarrior

    Thursday, June 11, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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