£3 'fee' for Norwich air travellers

SHAUN LOWTHORPE Passengers flying out of Norwich are to be hit with a £3 development tax from next month to help fund an £18m upgrade plan by its private owners.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

Passengers flying out of Norwich are to be hit with a £3 development tax from next month to help fund an £18m upgrade plan by its private owners.

Airport bosses said the “airport development fee” will be introduced from April 2 and those refusing to pay will not be allowed to board their flights.

Under the plans all outbound passengers will pay £3 with a £1 charge for children aged between two and 15 years old. Youngsters under two will travel free.

Around 450,000 passengers flew from Norwich in 2004 and the figure is expected to increase to nearly 800,000 this year. Richard Jenner, airport managing director, said the levy, which will be collected in special vending machines, was needed because growth had been faster since expected following the Omniport takeover. The airport was privatised in a £11m deal in 2004.

“What we are trying to do here is be transparent,” he said. “These funds are going to allow us to expand and help get better facilities and extend the number and range of flights we have. We think the benefits that are going to be created far outweigh an extra £3 overall. This money will all be put back into development at Norwich Airport. Of the £18m between £12m and £13m will be made up still from private investment. This is a very small element.”

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The tariff will help raise between £4m and £6m in the next five years and will be handled by the airport's transport services company NCP. Revenues will partly fund a range of works from improving taxiway facilities, increasing the number of check-in desks, betters shops, improving the lounge side toilets, developing a new fire service training ground and introducing noise reduction facilities.

Other terminals operating a similar payment method include Ireland West Airport Knock, Kerry and Newquay.

“Without this small charge made to every passenger it simply would not be possible for us to put this level of investment into the airport,” Mr Jenner added. “The growth provided by the investment will double the number of jobs created by Norwich International within the next five years as well as providing more choice, better value and greater comfort to passengers.”