Durham Tees Valley airport lobby to get Public Service Obligation route to London
Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for Sedgefield, will table an amendment to legislation currently before MPs to require airlines to maintain routes if investment and jobs depend on it. He wants to revive air links to London from regional airports such as struggling Durham Tees Valley. The idea will also be put to Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers when a delegation, led by Mr Wilson, meets her on April 24, to discuss the Durham Tees Valley Airport problems. He wants the committee considering the Civil Aviation Bill to examine the possibility of a clause, which would require an obligation to continue to fly because of the impact on the Tees Valley of withdrawing flights to London.
New bid to help London air links
14th March 2012 (Northern Echo)
A FRESH attempt to revive air links to London from regional airports such as struggling Durham Tees Valley will be made by a North-East MP.
Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for Sedgefield, will table an amendment to legislation currently before MPs to require airlines to maintain routes if investment and jobs depend on it.
The idea will also be put to Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers when a delegation, led by Mr Wilson, meets her on April 24, to discuss the Durham Tees Valley Airport problems.
Mr Wilson said: “This amendment is another way of protecting airports like Durham Tees Valley Airport.
“If the legislation proposed had been in place when BMI pulled its London flights from Durham Tees Valley Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority could have said ‘you have an obligation to continue to fly because of the impact on the Tees Valley’.
“I want the committee considering the Civil Aviation Bill to examine the possibility of the clause, which has the support of MPs in the Tees Valley area.”
It is the second proposal put forward to try to breathe life into the airport, hit by a £1.6m loss and passenger numbers dwindling to about 200,000 a year.
Last month, a deal was struck that meant the Peel Group took back control of the airport, ensuring it will remain a commercial business, but doubts remain over its long-term future.
James Wharton, the Tory MP for Stockton South, urged the new Tees Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to apply for a public service obligation (PSO) agreement, to secure a lucrative Heathrow slot. There has been growing criticism that Heathrow has reserved slots for only six UK airports – down from 21 in 1995 and compared with 250 such arrangements across Europe.
However, Mr Wilson, while backing the idea of a PSO, said the cost – up to £2m a year – will be beyond the reach of the cashstrapped enterprise partnership.
Similar calls for more PSOs have been made for many years, without success.
Mr Wilson’s amendment would allow the Government to impose an obligation on an airline to operate a specified route “if a socioeconomic case can be built for the route to continue”.
It would be imposed as part of the licence conditions for operating another route, following consultations with the Civil Aviation Authority, airport and airline.
This is not actually new. The same thing happened in 2009:
BOSSES FIGHT TO PROTECT DURHAM TO HEATHROW ROUTE
Durham Tees Valley Airport is pushing the government to impose a public service obligation (PSO) on routes to London in order to protect the vital link.
It is thought that airport bosses are attempting to secure the route to London Heathrow after Bmi cancelled its operations from the travel hub, the Northern Echo reports.
Shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers, who met airport group director Hugh Lang, told the newspaper: “There is no simple solution here. It is important that the option of a PSO is thoroughly considered.”
“We have accepted that there can be a case for intervention in the market where particular regions are disadvantaged,” she continued.
Transport secretary Geoff Hoon said he was considering the scheme.
In related airport news, a specialist security company is working with Manchester Airport to create a high-speed baggage screening system.
Bosses have spent £2 million on the Rapi-Scan Systems X-ray scanning project, which is currently on trial at the facility, the Manchester Evening News reports.
Public Service Obligation (PSO)
In transportation law of the European Union, public service obligation or PSO is an arrangement in which a governing body or other authority offers an auction for subsidies, permit the winning company a monopoly to operate a specified service of public transport for a specified period of time for the given subsidy. This is done in cases where there is not enough revenue for routes to be profitable in a free market, but where there is a socially desirable advantage in this transport being available. The use of PSO can be applied to many mode of transport, including air, sea, road or rail. In many cases the introduction of PSO has been a way to privatize former government owned transport. The infrastructure is often separated from the operation, and may be owned by the governing body or by a third party. The authority may also maintain the ownership of the vehicles, such as ferries or rolling stock.
Traditionally, public transport has been operated through a company wholly owned by the state with monopoly, like a national railway company. Alternatively, private companies were granted privileges (with or without subsidies) granting them an unfair monopoly. In later years many markets have been deregulated, especially in Europe, paying the lowest bidding operator to carry out the traffic at regular auctions.
…. and more on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_service_obligation
PSO flights from Cardiff Airport to Anglesey
Public Service Obligation Flights
On 21 February 2007 the airport announced that the airport would host the first Public Service Obligation (PSO) service to be operated in Wales. Inverness based airline Highland Airways would fly several services each day between Anglesey Airport and Cardiff. BAe Jetstream 31 aircraft were allocated to the route and it was hoped it would provide a quicker alternative to commuters travelling between North and South Wales, who otherwise rely on the A470 road or rail. The PSO service would be subsidised by the Welsh Assembly Government for three years; after this period, the route must be completely viable to continue. In May, the Anglesey service was claimed as a success, with over 1,000 seats being booked on the service within weeks of its announcement. There are options for up to 10 flights a day. On 25 March 2010 Highland Airways went into administration, prompting the suspension of flights. Manx2 was named as the new operator of the service on 29 April 2010 and won a 4 year contract serving the route in December 2010. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardiff_Airport
and PSO flights at Derry, in Northern Ireland
At the end of 2008, British Airways, operated by Loganair as a franchise agreement, ceased the Glasgow International route which had operated for 30 years, following the loss in July 2008 of their public service obligation route to Dublin. This route is now operated by Aer Arann. Aer Lingus Commuter had previously operated the route until 1994. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/City_of_Derry_Airport