We welcome the publication of the Transport Select Committee Report on smaller airports and are pleased that it reflects many of the key issues which we—in common with the Regional and Business Airports Group of which we are members--raised in evidence.
We particularly welcome the clear message from the committee that the whole of the country should benefit from expanded airport capacity in the South of England—and the call for the Department for Transport to take a proactive approach, including considering whether some ‘slots’ should be ring-fenced for regional services.
This is an area where we have consistently maintained that there is a need for the regional dimension to be given greater priority in national airports policy. DTVA is one of those regional airports which has lost its Heathrow link and its reinstatement should be a priority.
The report also recognises the very difficult economic circumstances smaller regional airports are facing and the importance of diversification and the development of new aviation related activity to maximise their resilience and commercial viability. This is a process we have been pursuing and which is reflected in the Airport Masterplan which we published last year.
In addition, the committee quite rightly highlights the difficulties already existing as a result of the impact of Air Passenger Duty—and the need for the Government to reflect on the disproportionate effect it has had on smaller regional airports and to bring forward measures to level the playing field.