Norwich Airport boss welcomes new vision for aviation industry

Richard Pace, managing director at Norwich Airport. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Pace, managing director at Norwich Airport. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017

Government proposals to put passengers at the heart of changes in aviation and a focus on supporting regional airports have been welcomed by the boss of Norwich Airport.

The Department for Transport has released the next stage of its strategy for the industry, with the aim of improving customers' flying experience, by making ticket costs clearer and allowing them to make an informed choice.

It also aims to help regions to 'fulfil their potential' – something Norwich Airport managing director Richard Pace said would be good for the city.

He said: 'The purpose of a small airport is not just for commercial passenger flights. We have flying schools, helicopter take-offs for offshore wind in Norwich's case, corporate aviation and the air ambulance. These are the kind of things smaller airports offer to the ecosystem that bigger ones can't and it is pleasing the government is recognising that.'

Mr Pace said the strategy document's aspiration to offer consumers more choice would benefit regional airports like Norwich.

In 2016, 42% of air traffic movements at Gatwick were from EasyJet, while British Airways accounted for 52% at Gatwick and Ryanair a whopping 78% at Stansted.

Mr Pace said: 'We know one million people travel to London to fly from our catchment area, so if we can take some of those it would mean more options for customers and allow us to offer more flights.'

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Mr Pace said further discussion was needed on was Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is imposed on passengers for every flight on a journey. Regional airport passengers may have to take two flights for a single journey, so costs can mount up.

The government has called for evidence on the impact of APD and Mr Pace said he would like to see it only charged once per journey for regional airports to make connections more viable.

Stansted Airport head of external affairs Chris Wiggan said the UK industry was at a critical juncture.

'The government clearly recognises the importance of the aviation industry to UK's economic future. Over the next decade, London Stansted will play a vital role in maintaining and improving this country's global competitiveness,' he said.

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