By BEN WOODS
, Business writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Businesses have got their first taste of a new Norwich flight path providing a direct route to one of Holland’s largest offshore energy hubs.
Flybe franchise carrier Loganair is set to launch a new weekday service between Norwich Airport and the northern Dutch city of Den Helder – in a bid to cut journey times for energy workers in the East of England.
A service operating Monday to Friday from March 4 will fly to the costal city, which has a burgeoning oil and gas industry plus trade links with energy companies in Norfolk and Suffolk.
And while the new route is aimed at the energy sector, business chiefs are also hopeful that it will establish new links for the tourism, horticulture and agricultural trades.
Roger Hage, director of business development for Loganair, said the connection will provide support to the two region’s economies.
Dutch business chiefs want to establish agricultural and tourism links between Norwich and Den Helder with the launch of a flight connection.
Jeroen Noot, account manager and regional affairs for Den Helder chamber of commerce, believes the two sectors could be boosted by the new link, which he hopes will encourage travellers from Norfolk to take day trips and holidays in the Dutch region.
He said: “It is a great addition in terms of the service to the offshore sector, and I think the link to the East of England is obvious as we have a a very large agricultural sector which has links to the UK. I hope it will bring a stronger connection between these two sectors. A lot of companies in Den Helder are active in the development of plant seed and have a large share of the world market. They have locations all over the world, and this route makes it easier for them to get to their locations in England.
“We also have a lot of tourism here – it is popular for people who want to see a traditional Dutch town, and could prove popular with people in the East of England as well.”
Meanwhile, Markes Groot, managing director of VVV, promoting tourism in Den Helder, said: “It is only a short flight from Norwich, which is very efficient, so we hope to get more and more tourists and business coming here in the future.”
He said: “Primarily East Anglia and north Netherlands both have strong offshore energy industries and we are trying to establish a link between the two because a lot of personnel from the east are travelling to Den Helder to go offshore.
“What we are trying to do is serve a niche market that is heading to Den Helder and make it easier for them. The route will be less hassle and less expensive and add support to the two regions and their economy. It will be the most direct way of getting there without having to use ground transport like rail or road.”
The new flight, which uses a 31-seater Dornier 328 turboprop aircraft, will leave Norwich at 10.20am and arrive at Den Helder at 12.10pm local time, before a return service leaves Den Helder at 2.30pm, arriving in Norwich at 2.20pm.
It aims to provide an alternative solution to the current route to Den Helder, in which workers have to fly to the Amsterdam airport of Schiphol before travelling north to the port city by car or train.
Celia Anderson, executive director of the East of England Energy Group, said: “There are a lot of energy workers going to Den Helder and this flight means it is more accessible and quicker to get to.
“The primary benefit is access and helping people who are working in the energy sector. It also provides an opportunity for people from Den Helder to come across to the East of England and build relationships with companies on the other side of the North Sea as well.”
Andrew Bell, chief executive of Norwich Airport, added: “The new Den Helder service further cements Norwich International’s credentials as a transport hub for the southern North Sea. The ability to connect through Norwich to Den Helder for passengers originating in Manchester, or indeed locations further afield such as Glasgow, offers a convenience that has not existed in the past.”