Airports battling a drop in passengers blame tax

Airports across the UK are facing a grim future due to the recession and sky-high taxes, new figures revealed.

Durham Tees Valley Airport
Durham Tees Valley Airport

Airports across the UK are facing a grim future due to the recession and sky-high taxes, new figures revealed.

The controversial UK flight tax Air Passenger Duty (APD) has devastated passenger numbers at regional airports, with some struggling to survive. Since 2007 it has increased by up to 260% for short-haul flights and 360% for long-haul flights.

Airport passenger numbers, provided by the Civil Aviation Authority, reveal a stark downward trend.

Durham Tees Valley was among the hardest hit in the UK, suffering a 77% drop in passenger numbers. It will record losses of about £4m this year. Earlier this week Peel, owner of Durham-Tees, proposed a ‘master plan’ focused on maximising the potential of the whole site and on repositioning the airport to focus on business routes. The North East Chamber of Commerce chief executive, James Ramsbotham, was positive about the changes even though “it is disappointing that further investment will not be sought to increase the passenger offer.”

Meanwhile, larger regional hubs such as Newcastle International managed to weather the worst effects of the downturn, but still saw a drop of 22.6% compared to 2007.

Chris Sanders, aviation development director, said: “Newcastle, like all UK regional airports, has been affected by the economic downturn and significant increases in APD which have adversely impacted demand. Between 2007 and 2010, we saw passenger numbers fall from 5.6 million to 4.3 million - but they have now crept back up to 4.4 million.

“The good news is that we are starting to see some growth on the back of economic recovery, and this is a very positive sign for the region.

“We are optimistic about the future and our ability to grow connectivity for the benefit of the whole North East region. The more people choose to fly from Newcastle, the easier it becomes to persuade airlines to fly from here.”

Official figures predict passenger numbers will recover slowly as the economy grows.

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