“No future” for UK’s smallest airports

There is “no doubt” that the UK’s smallest airports will be forced to close, according to Manchester Airport Group’s (MAG) Jonathan Bailey.

The airport group is questioning the role of Britain’s small regional airports, including its own, he told delegates attending the Guild of Travel Management’s (GTMC) annual overseas conference at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi.

Bailey, MAG’s group external affairs director, said: “I can honestly say to you that I don’t see a future for the smallest airports in the UK. Plymouth is closing. There’s absolutely no doubt that other airports will need to close.”

When asked about the future for small airports, he said: “That is a good question and because we own a couple of those, it is something we have been asking ourselves.”

Bailey said that the costs involved in running an airport are making it difficult for the smallest airports to survive. He cited policing costs, security costs and business rates as among the most crippling.

MAG owns and operates Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside airports. Bailey said he “wouldn’t give a categorical no” that MAG won’t close “some of the smaller airports”.

“That is sad,” he said, “but I think it’s just about the cost of making those businesses operate.”

Report by Sara Turner


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  • I think that stating England rather than UK might be more appropriate. Scottish Government policy taken from their web site:-

    ‘Transport Scotland recognises that the provision of air services in the Highlands and Islands is vital to the social and economic welfare of the areas they serve.

    This provision of airport services through Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd (HIAL) contributes to the general objective of maintaining population and promoting sustainable economic growth in these areas but are loss making and are supported by subsidies from the Scottish Government.

    HIAL is a public corporation, wholly owned by the Scottish Ministers. The company is responsible for the operation and management of 11 airports (Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Inverness, Islay, Kirkwall, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick) in the Highlands and Islands and Dundee. Deficit grant is paid to the company in respect of the losses incurred in its operation and this allows airport charges for domestic flights to be contained at a level which ensures the continuation of essential air services.’ (all are so called small airports in terms of passenger numbers)

    (not sure about the situation in NI & Wales)

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