Support for UK regional airport expansion increases

Passengers and industry support regional expansion

Support for expansion at regional airports to ease the demand for extra flight capacity in the UK is on the increase, reveals the World Travel Market 2014 Industry Report.

The report reveals that, among the 84% of UK holidaymakers who believe the UK needs greater airport capacity, expanding regional airports is the preferred solution for 39%.

That compares to 16% of holidaymakers in favour of capacity expansion at Heathrow; 13% in favour of expansion at Gatwick and 13% in favour of building a new airport in London.

A further 16% believe no extra capacity is needed, while 3% say another alternative, such as expanding both Heathrow and Gatwick airports, is the best option.

The move towards regional expansion shows a shift in attitude from a year ago, when expansion at Heathrow was the clear favourite among respondents.

Among the UK’s senior executives, nine out of ten (89%) consider that the UK needs greater aviation capacity, an increase on 2013 figures.

Industry representatives are almost equally split between expanding Heathrow and existing regional airports, with 31% opting for Heathrow and 30% opting for regional airport expansion.

A further 15% believe Gatwick expansion is the best solution; 11% would prefer a new airport to be built in London; 11% believe no extra airport capacity is required at Gatwick, while 3% say another solution is the best option.

The increased support for regional airport expansion from both holidaymakers and the travel industry follows on from a massive expansion in capacity from regional airports.

Thomson and First Choice, for example, recently announced they will increase summer 2015 capacity at UK regional airports through the introduction of 29 new routes and further weekly flights for existing routes.

Furthermore, at Edinburgh Airport, Ryanair is planning to expand and Etihad Airways is to launch a daily Edinburgh to Abu Dhabi service from June 2015.

World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press:

“The fact that more holidaymakers are thinking about alternatives to Heathrow expansion shows there is still much to be debated on the issue of aviation capacity. Regional expansion is certainly becoming more popular among both the industry and airport users.

“It’s perhaps not surprising. As tour operators have expanded their product range and airlines have added more services from airports around the country, the customer has begun to reap the benefits of greater choice and convenience.”

World Travel Market polled 1,011 UK holidaymakers – people who had been on at least one seven night holiday either in the UK or abroad in 2014, and 1,229 senior travel industry executives.

Watch BBC reporter Stephen Sackur deliver the report at World Travel Market 2014 in London.

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