Graphic: New owners of Norwich International Airport will not scrap controversial travel tax

Andrew Bell, chief executive at Norwich International Airport.  Photo: Bill Smith Andrew Bell, chief executive at Norwich International Airport. Photo: Bill Smith

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
12:22 PM

A self-made billionaire has taken over Norwich International Airport with a pledge to accelerate growth by expanding its flight network.

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The story of Norwich AirportThe story of Norwich Airport

Sir Peter Rigby, of The Rigby Group, has secured an 81pc share of the business from the previous owners Omniport in a deal that will see both Norfolk Country Council and Norwich City Council keep hold of their stake in the transport hub.

The facility will now be managed by Rigby Group’s airport division Regional & City Airports (RCA), which also owns and operates Coventry and Exeter Airports.

But hopes that new ownership might spell the end of the controversial travel tax have been dashed after Sir Peter said the £10 charge on flights remained a crucial component for making the business profitable.

Sir Peter, chairman and chief Executive of the Rigby Group said: “We have continually reiterated our belief in the importance of regional airports to local and regional communities and their economies. We are intent on developing our aviation business within the Rigby Group, and have made another significant acquisition here. I am delighted to welcome Norwich’s staff to a workforce that now safeguards approximately 650 aviation jobs, and look forward to working with them as we plot out a secure, sustainable and positive future for the facility.”

Andrew Bell, who will stay in his position as chief executive of Norwich International Airport, said: “This is a significant and very positive day for the Airport. As a highly respected and stable organisation, Rigby Group’s involvement will enable us to build on the many achievements of recent years, safeguarding the future of the business and providing us with a platform from which to build an even more prosperous future for the Airport itself and the region.”

George Nobbs, leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “I’ve had a meeting with Sir Peter today and liked what I saw and heard. I am confident that he shares our aims and ambitions for the airport in particular and Norfolk and Norwich in general. I are happy to confirm that Norfolk’s shareholding in the airport remain unaffected and we are deeply committed and enthusiastic about working together.”

Councillor Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: “This is excellent news both for the airport and the city. One of the key elements of our City Deal to bring investment and growth to Norwich is the aviation cluster based around Norwich International Airport and I look forward to working with the Rigby Group with these ambitions in mind.”

• For further coverage, pick up a copy of tomorrow’s Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News.

35 comments

  • DaveG - a friend of mine lives near East Midlands airport and often flies 4 seater from there. I once asked him to fly to Norwich rather than drive, he laughed and said 'Norwich airport landing costs are absolutely ridiculous and it's far cheaper even at large airports like EMA'. I assume that BMI etc charge more from Norwich because the costs imposed on them by Mr Bell and co are extortionate!

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    jeffbridges769

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

  • If you think they bought Norwich as a bucket and spade airport forget it. This company is in to helicopters and North Sea traffic as a decent reporter would have pointed out in the glowing article above. If you check out their website they talk about 'development potential and opportunity' at their other airports. Shame the EDP never bothers to do the proper reporting.

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    Michael Clintergate

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

  • The charge at Norwich can't really be "controversial" because to drive to a London Airport takes hours and petrol taxi fares. I would sooner fly out of Norwich.

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    Mick Castle

    Thursday, June 12, 2014

  • Please just get some one to do a flight to Dublin, Shannon or knock.

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    sarah

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • "But hopes that new ownership might spell the end of the controversial travel tax have been dashed after Sir Peter said the £10 charge on flights remained a crucial component for making the business profitable" I thought the whole point of the ADF was to pay for the improvements to the airport and terminal. It would appear that it is now crucial to make it profitable. It looks as though someone has been lying.

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    neil499

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • MAG are pumping money into Stansted so Rigby better be ready for a fight. The ADF will put some passengers off, but most will pay it if the routes are there.

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    Tone the moan

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • I'd say it is likely to be good news. The prospect of the County at last getting on with the Northern Distributor Road will also enhance its attractiveness. The new owners sound to have a "go-ahead" approach.

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    Mick Castle

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • I fly from Norwich on average twice a year. I have found all the staff really helpful and polite. Yes the security is very robust, but I think that's a good thing, I would rather it that way than being laid back! The ADF is far too much, £5 was quite enough. I wonder if all those Helicopter passengers who fly out to the rigs pay their ADF? Although the majority of them use the other building, there are still heli passengers who go via the terminal as commercial passengers do, and the helicopters use the runways and AIr traffic Control....so what's the difference. Hope the new owners now pay out the share holders a dividend....none for the last few years............Norfolk and Norwich Councils should now press for their share payouts and help reduce the burden of council tax reductions on the residents of the city and the county.

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    Matilda

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Its not the airport that scared me off, it is the price charged by Eastern Rip Off Airways and BMi to fly up and down to Norwich. cheapest return £278, what is that all about. I now fly to London City, and drive up, it might take 3 hours. but airport experience is better and i save £150 a m onth

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    DaveG

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Perhaps these fawning politicians Nobbs and Artur could try demanding a justification of this dubious if not illegal Airport tax .Which unsophisticated at best seems to hold a metaphorical gun to travellers heads.Or do their Socialist principles fly out of the airport,when a cash cow money machine is in place.Nothing changes Labour good at spending other peoples hard earned money.

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    PaulH

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Norwich 'International' Airport must be the biggest white elephant in the country. It seems to only exist for noisy rig helicopters and the occasional package holiday maker. How Mr Bell kept his job is astounding.

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    jeffbridges769

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Norwich is my local airport. I haven't used it for some years now for one or more of the following reasons at different times: 1. It is probably the most expensive airport in the country for business travel. It is usually cheaper to drive to Stansted first. 2. Few flights go to places that I need to go to. 3. The 'travel tax' just makes me angry. I look for reasons to avoid Norwich Airport if I can. I know I'm not alone. New owners need to have a good think. Give us an amenity that we can use.

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    Max Headroom

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Who would believe that in 2014 we still can't fly to anywhere in Ireland direct from Norwich.

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    samphirelover

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • As for the cost JCW the Rigby website quotes a figure of £22 million (est).

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    bumble7

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • This should be a golden opportunity to revitalise the airport by making a new plan rather than sticking to a formula that clearly was not working. Flybe, or any low cost airline needs to be encouraged back to give local customers what they want.

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    bumble7

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Who ever takes over get some flights installed to Alicante as in the past, why on earth was this service withdrawn. I really know close on a hundred people who like myself go the Benidorm but have to use Stansted flights much cheaper but cost the earth to get to the airport. I make no comment about the stupid ten pound charge other than to say what other business gets its customers to pay for its so call expansion

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    Peachy Mead

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • That's my boycott continuing then - I'm not going to line a multi billionaires pocket with the adf. I'd rather train it to Stansted (using the adf) - more choice, better aircraft.

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    biglingers

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • 'Come and fly from Norwich, the only Rigby owned airport that charges you extra'.... what a great advert. Norwich airport is operated for offshore and private flights mainly, to have large aircraft land on it, with housing on three sides slowly increasing according to the GNDP, is untenable. Whatever the deal was it must have been good for Rigby, because as a shut airport it would fetch probably twice its value for housing development.

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    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Why won't people realise that it's the airlines who decide where they want to fly and from based on a true supply and demand policy. Half a dozen people who would like to fly twice a year to a place do not produce a viable service. You need 140-180 passengers per flight per week to make it work for a mainland Spain and if those passengers want flight-only then the tour opps won't be interested as they wont be able to sell the accommodation as well. NWI is a great little airport which is incredibly easy to travel through. Sure,the £10 tax is not welcome and I don't think they help themselves by isolating it , believe me you are paying this £10 tax at all the other airports within other charges such as parking, concessions, food even the £2 Luton charge for clear plastic bags ! And if you factor in your own time it takes to go through Stansted even at minimum wage, it's far more than a tenner.And as for the security, are they too "professional" ? , it sounds that way judging by these comments, maybe that needs addressing but hey, I'd rather have those comments than "No wonder there was a bomb on that plane at Norwich , the security staff were rubbish". Sounds like they do their job well ! For some passengers NWI isn't suitable, for some it is and that is where the airport has to find the balance.Also we live in a beautifully sparse county with very little north of the city, those the the South can get to Stansted and Luton in and hour and a half, so anyone thinking that the budget airlines could make money flying out of Norwich need to look at the numbers. It's not the airport's choice, it's the airline's. Of course NWI does cater for the passengers North and Northeast of Norfolk- they are one of busiest Offshore airports in Europe. I wonder whether Luton get many complaints saying that they should offer a service to the Shell Platforms.

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    augustuspablo

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Woke up to the news of change of ownership with optimism. Then watched Mr Bell on BBC Look East at lunchtime and my heart sank. No he wasn't going to remove the airport tax as it was an integral part of their business plan. Yet as the report stated, the tax was the reason FlyBe pulled out of its mainstream European scheduled services to Alicante, Malaga and Dublin. And with it went half the annual footfall which still hasn't recovered to any significant level and won't until such popular routes are re-introduced. But if Mr Bell insists on keeping the airport tax it is hardly a move that will exactly encourage new carriers, trying to balance their costs and returns. So many of us will continue flying from Stansted, spending thousands on flights, taxicar hire, hotels - not a penny of which will benefit the local economy in Norwich or Norfolk. Sad.

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    malaga flier

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • I wonder how much the Rigby Group paid for the airport.

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    JCW

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • In the last 12 months I have flown from Norwich 16 times or to look at it another way, been taxed £160 just to use the airport. Recently I have started using a hire car to Heathrow and returning via Heathrow, saving on average £450 to £500 per trip. Getting home usually 4 to 8hrs earlier depending on were I've been because of the crap connection times in Amsterdam. I've been putting up with this for years and have over 1.2 million useless air miles with KLM but no more.

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    Tony

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • And George Nobbs, Director of NIA too.....

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    jaybaxter

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • I LOVE flying from Norwich... It's such a hassle free experience and I'm happy to pay a little bit extra for not having the stress of using Airports further away. As for security staff, never had a problem with them! I just really hope that they can introduce some more links to other destinations rather than just rely on package tours.

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    Ben Bullen

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Will it mean the Gestapo security get the boot - I certainly hope so, I may consider using Norwich airport again if there are no more gestapo security

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    CC

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Speaking from my own experiences, apart from paying the £10 ADF and expensive rubbish breakfast I got, I have never had a problem with the security staff or anything else at the airport. Last two years have flown to Bulgaria and enjoyed the short journey to the airport and speedy bag re-claim and back home. This year am flying to Turkey from Norwich, could have saved a total of £100 flying from Stansted, but by the time you pay for fuel and parking is cheaper and hell of a lot quicker to go from Norwich. Would be nice to have someone like Easyjet or Ryanair operating from here, but cannot have everything.

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    norfolko

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • We flew from Norwich Airport a fortnight ago and it was a great experience. Just 20 minutes from home and easy parking. No problems with security and happy to pay the ADF if it means that we can continue to travel with such convenience.

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    Effie

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Never used it since my experience with scary security staff some years ago. Expensive to use this dump, expensive flights and Stansted much better notwithstanding the distance.

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    guest

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • I don't understand why the manager is not addressing the issues with the security staff. They are losing the airport customers.

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    Michael Clintergate

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Flew from norwich three weeks ago, never again, the security checks are scary compared with other airports,

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    gerry mitson

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Sorry about the typo re-instated!

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    RoadWarrior

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Whopee do, does this mean flights to Dublin will be re-insated?

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    RoadWarrior

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Let us hope they sort out the awful security experience with bored staff treating passengers as they were all potential terrorists. As previously stated the ADF is a bone of contention and the high cost of flights to Amsterdam drive passengers to Stansted.

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    Michael Clintergate

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Welcome news if it means Norwich Airport may once again attract scheduled services to key European destinations such as Malaga, Alicante etc. At present it is OK if you want an internal flight. But until or unless it re-introduces scheduled overseas routes it will never grow and regain a singificant portion of its passenger footfall. Despite continued assurances for the past five years no progress has been made on meeting the needs of a large sector of the travelling public. As someone who has several times tried the Amsterdam hub option, all I can say it is expensive and time-consuming. Sadly far easier and cheaper to travel down to Stansted. What Norwich needs is an injection of Southend Airport -style dynamics!

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    malaga flier

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

  • Will this mean the end of the ADF? Currently the other airports owned by Rigby group do not charge the fee. Will the airport still hold the county council to ransom, with their demand for a new radar system, to prevent them objecting to the NDR?

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    suffin else

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

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

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