31 OCTOBER 2016


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Article from BTNews 31 OCTOBER 2016

COMMENT: Brexit bonus for the regions

At last, a definitive decision on a new runway for the South East. Even Norwegian Air, a Gatwick resident, says that we must put the past behind us and get on with the future. 

The R3 decision has to be linked with Brexit.

Lost in the words regarding leaving the EU is a real bonus for the regions. No longer will we be subject to Brussels rules regarding air passenger duty (APD), which says if you charge a departure tax is must be on all routes (although special rules for certain areas complicate matters). In other words, if you want to make a return flight from, say, Southampton to Manchester (or Heathrow – Belfast), you have to pay the tax both ways. With Southampton to Amsterdam or Paris, it is only outbound.

Free of Brussels/Strasbourg, the government is under no obligation to set this punitive tax. The revenue generated by domestic APD in 2016 will be in the region of £200m once all the subsidies are removed. In the general scheme of things, the missing £100m is not a lot to be regained from other areas. (ie divide by half)

What to do in the meantime while R3 goes through the review motions? 

BTN repeats its stance that London Northolt Airport should be quickly reintroduced as a scheduled-service airport in order to show the provinces, mainly in support of R3, that the government wants to help the regions with connectively to both London and the wider world.

It would be the simplest of tasks to move out the noisy private jets to the many airports around London that would welcome them. The slots they used could then link places such as Liverpool, Newquay, Plymouth and Durham Tees Valley to London, and the globe. They are crying out for services. The revenue generated would make Northolt profitable and quieter. When R3 comes on line, Northolt could be sold, making it the largest urban redevelopment since Docklands. Even at today’s prices, the 600-acre site is worth £2bn.

This is something for the Exchequer to lead on, not the RAF.  The Treasury is the paymaster.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Philippe Forest, UK/London

It seems odd to blame Brussels for a tax the English Government has chosen to impose that at the level it is. This tax is driven by the UK Government.

John Smith, Sussex

“Free of Brussels/Strasbourg, the government is under no obligation to set this punitive tax” Seems odd to blame Brussels for a tax the English Government has chosen to impose that at the level it is. Other countries have similar taxes but not so extortionate. You pay the tax form the airport of departure so if both of these are in England then tough luck but don’t Brussels for Westminster policy! On any country lucky enough to have a land border, governments are restrained from this type of extortion because it is much more cost effective to use another airport across the border which residents of the North of Ireland can already do (and maybe soon those in the North of England). It is similar to our wine tax – about the highest in Europe because of the physical barriers of cross border shopping being on an island and can only worse after Brexit if customs controls are reintroduced.

tony hellyer, pulborough sussex

In other news, spanky new deckchairs on the Titanic

Simon Grigor, Harrow, Middlesex

Another ball to throw into the Northolt idea pot is the HS2 plan. HS2 is planned to go through Ruislip so there's the potential for a link station. However, while HS2 is being built, I expect the area around RAF Northolt to be one of absolute travel chaos, so the idea of Northolt's use while runway 3 is built loses attractiveness with that.

David Bentley, Manchester

While Malcolm Ginsberg has made a good case for Northolt (good enough for Saad Hammad but he's gone now) Ithink Paul Anderson has nailed it when he hints that smaller regional airports like Liverpool are 20 years too late for Heathrow connections. They would add little to what is available through one terminal at Amsterdam, or directly from the big airport just down the road.

Malcolm Ginsberg, London

There is a fine piece in THE TIMES (p37)today suggesting that Northolt's time may have come. However please note the plan would be to exchange the noisy private jets for quiet turboprops. Even the local MP would be happy.

Malcolm Ginsberg, London

The railway argument does not hold up for places such as Carlisle, Cornwall/Plymouth, Dundee, Inverness, Liverpool, Prestwick, Teeside, etc plus Jersey and the IoM. With an apron transfer (easily done inside the security area) South Ruislip station is 5 minutes away with trains to Marylebone (via Wembley Stadium) taking 12 minutes and the Piccadilly line to Marble Arch 29 minutes. Heathrow is 30% connections and very high on routes such as Edinburgh. It would work the same for the regional airports not linked until R3.

Paul Anderson, United Kingdom

I fail to see the logic behind opening up Northolt for connections to \'the provinces\'.The only use to airports outside of London with operating there is connections, going to Northolt would be a real pain. It would not compete with the KLM/LH connections from these \'provinces\' directly to their hubs, and it would not do anything for point to point as rail mostly replaced domestic air travel for most routes on the UK mainland. Add in that the largest airport outiside of London (MAN) has little use for London connectivity and the whole \'R3/Brexit for the regions\' argument falls apart.