Norfolk Business Awards 2018

Links with Paris and Dublin could boost worldwide choice for Norwich Airport passengers

Generic views of Norwich Airport. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Generic views of Norwich Airport. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

New flights to Paris and Dublin could open up a world of onward destinations to passengers from Norwich.

Generic views of Norwich Airport. The café area. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Generic views of Norwich Airport. The café area. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The potential links with the European hubs are key to increasing the choice on offer to passengers, and would be modelled on the existing arrangement with Amsterdam, from which more than 600 destinations are available.

But managing director Richard Pace said those links would be developed alongside direct flights from Norwich to a wider range of locations in the UK and abroad, and highlighted support from the airport’s majority owner, Regional and City Airports, as a major factor in making them realistic aspirations.

“We are not going from 0-60mph overnight. That happened in 2007 – our passenger numbers went up and then down – but our aim is to add one or two routes per year,” he said.

“This is about going step by step – we need to be able to do this sustainably.

“The key point is to have the right aircraft size and the right frequency so that we can generate the right seat price.”

Rhodes is a new route for summer 2017, and Heraklion will be added next year, with several other domestic routes “in the works”, said Mr Pace.

Leisure passenger numbers are expected to grow faster than business passengers, who already make up around 40pc of Norwich Airport’s annual passengers – around five times the national average – and provide a steady year-round custom.

Mr Pace said the ambition was to build winter leisure routes, in order to reduce the seasonal reliance on summer flights.

“We know that the leisure market is under-served in our region, and that there is more capacity in the market than we are able to offer at the moment,” he said.

The Amsterdam route from Norwich is operated by KLM, whose owners also own Air France, offering hope that a deal with Paris could be reached.

Dublin Airport welcomed 28 million passengers last year, and has plans to complete its long-awaited north runway by 2020, further boosting capacity.

Norwich’s bigger rivals are also expanding, however, with London Stansted in Essex expected to later this year apply for permission to grow passenger numbers from 35 million to 45 million a year.

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