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Norwich Airport boss calls for ticket tax to be scrapped in face of £4 billion losses

PUBLISHED: 11:03 24 July 2020 | UPDATED: 14:49 24 July 2020

Richard Pace, Norwich Airport. Pic: Archant

Richard Pace, Norwich Airport. Pic: Archant

Archant

The boss at Norwich Airport is urging for a tax holiday on the price of tickets to salvage travel following coronavirus.

Norwich Airport. Pic: ArchantNorwich Airport. Pic: Archant

Richard Pace, managing director, is calling for the air passenger duty – an amount added according to flight distance – to be scrapped for at least six months to save some routes “which might otherwise have to be withdrawn.”

It comes after new analysis of the air industry shows UK airports are set to lose £4 billion in revenue by the end of 2020 as a direct result of coronavirus – with regional airports bearing the brunt. In the first four months of the pandemic passenger numbers dropped by 99pc – equating to £2 billion in loss of revenue, more than £15m each day.

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Mr Pace says compared with Heathrow and Gatwick, airports like Norwich are showing a “slower bounce back, with greater lost demand and lost connectivity”.

Passenger tax varies on flights depending on distance but on a return flight from Norwich to Tenerife in October would add £26. It can add up to £78 on a standard ticket travelling more than 2,000 miles and substantially more on longer haul flights.

Norwich Airport almost completely shut down for more than four months in lockdown, operating just its Aberdeen route to support the oil and gas industry. Holiday flights were cancelled by tour operator TUI which has only just announced it is resuming one winter route to Tenerife in October and KLM is only restarting its daily services to Amsterdam next month.

Mr Pace said: “As demonstrated by this new analysis, UK regional airports have been and will continue to be the worst impacted by the coronavirus crisis, with slower bounce back, with greater lost demand and lost connectivity.

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“The report covers airports only and there will undoubtedly be a multiplier effect on the businesses and the wider community around UK airport sites. Such losses undermine the ability of airport business to power the future prosperity of their local economies, forgoing crucial investment projects and, unfortunately, causing job losses.

“Of particular interest to Norwich Airport is the request for temporary suspension of air passenger duty, which would be an important boost for our region.

“APD is one of the highest, if not the highest, tax of its type in the world. It adds a significant amount to the price of tickets departing from UK airports, which ultimately has the effect of dampening passenger demand and/or limiting the operating revenues that can be achieved by airlines from ticket sales.

“The temporary removal of APD would potentially stimulate demand for travel and/or enable airlines to temporarily support the commercial viability of routes that might otherwise have to be withdrawn.”

The report by the Airport Operators Association also calls for a reduction in business rates and employment support.


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