Deathwatch - local airports could crash during the recession
It's all very well jetting off to Magaluf for a tenner, but Ryanair and the likes still need places to land their planes - unless they make it a requirement for passengers to provide their own runway which, giving Michael O'Leary's recent comments, doesn't seem too far fetched. Still, short of taking off from the M1 and establishing passport control at Little Chef, planes will need airports, and that could soon be a problem.
The Airport Operators Association has warned that passenger numbers dropped by 15% last month. Those numbers sound manageable until you look at individual sites - passenger numbers dropped by 70% at Blackpool Airport and were halved at Durham Tees Valley.
According to the BBC, this has led to tit-for-tat in-fighting between airports and budget airlines. Airports have begun introducing fees to fast-track passengers through security, while Blackpool and Norwich now charges a mandatory airport development fee per passenger. Budget airlines believe the charges are driving more passengers away and are threatening to abandon airports that charge trumped-up fees. Easyjet says it withdrew services from Warsaw after excess fees were brought in, and is threatening to do the same again in the UK.
But is a nominal fee really a deal-breaker when booking flights? Or is it the constant succession of small fees throughout the booking process (many of which are levied by the airline) that eventually turn you off flying, especially when a family trip means multiple charges? Would you be happy to pay a £20 charge to fly your family from your local airport, or would you prefer to drive to the nearest regional airport instead? Would the world really miss Blackpool or Durham Tees Valley, when the alternatives (Manchester or Newcastle) would mean more choice and lower fares? Let us know what you think.