Deathwatch - local airports could crash during the recession

11 April 2009

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.


  • Joff
    It seems that most of the usable routes for short breaks across Europe are now operated by budget airlines, so whilst you might be flying out of Stanstead or *shudder* East Midlands it's likely you'll be flying into another country's Blackpool. It's of no interest to me to fly out of Gatwick into another capital city airport, only to then have to travel for hours at the other end to get to my final destination. Do the regional airports really offer better choice? Maybe in the gift shops and restaurants but what about for flights into the crappy destinations normally overlooked by anyone bar business travellers. I don't mind paying a bit towards fees providing the service is good, something I think some of the budget airlines have forgotten. People begrudge paying to queue jump with Ryan Air, only to find that over 60% of the flight has done the same thing (soon you'll be able to queue queue jump, queue queue queue jump and maybe even just "jump") but if the experience was a no frills yet happy one, you'd get no complaints (from me anyway).
  • Anon
    Newcastles choice of destinations is crap, unless you want to go to Spain.
  • Deb
    Cardiff international airport is one of the biggest wastes of space i have ever seen. most of the larger airlines have now dropped it and even the baggage handling company they were using has quit due to the lack of airlines using them. The only place you can fly to via Cardiff is Spain, All the other destinations have now been dropped, up until last year you could fly to most of the USA, Canada, most of Europe but not anymore, Bristol isnt much better. Cardiff airport is/was REALLY REALLY expensive to fly from.
  • Mr S.
    I wouldn't mind travelling a taxiable distance. Until trains etc. become a practical choice at more airports, the problem comes when you start spending most of the money you save on the flight in car parking fees and fuel.
  • andy y.
    The bread of most regional airports was the Heathrow run, that ws killed by BAA's shameful single landing fee which made regional routes uneconoimic. This had a knock on effect of attracting investment into regional economies.Industry execs want fast connections into major cities.The butter was holiday cahrter fights,these have been undercut by the budget airlines that come and go at will. Until the economy.Add inti the mix the strong euro/weak pound and a consumer nervous to committ to pricey trips and the outlook for smaller airports is just piss poor
  • Wilko
    "Newcastles choice of destinations is crap, unless you want to go to Spain." ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Yeah, but Durham Tees Valley is worse. It's little more than a bus station, for God's Sake.
  • andy y.
    Shit I should check my syntax .speling and gramma b4 posting
  • toots
    Posted by Wilko | April 12th, 2009 at 11:29 am “Newcastles choice of destinations is crap, unless you want to go to Spain.” Remember u can still fly to dubai on Emirates from Newcastle and connect to a load of countries from there. So newcastle is no where as crap as the other options.

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