Liverpool airport says ‘we will talk to anyone’ as Gatwick announces £20 million fund and Heathrow announces £10 million…

Liverpool John Lennon Airport says it would be happy to speak to Gatwick Airport about regional routes, after Gatwick put out a press release to say (copying Heathrow’s earlier offer) it would spend up to £20 million to help support regional air routes.  Gatwick and Heathrow offers only apply if that airport got a new runway, not otherwise. Liverpool Airport has already been in talks with Heathrow about the possibility of getting a link there (if there is a new runway) – as Heathrow is keen not to lose connecting flights, if people in the regions prefer to fly via Schiphol.  However, Gatwick’s offer would have far less appeal than Heathrow’s to Liverpool Airport because it does not offer a connection to a hub, for long haul flights.  A spokesman for Liverpool airport said:  “We are always open to suggestions for new routes and we are happy to speak to anyone.”  Heathrow says it is offering a £10 million fund to support regional routes, to five airports over 3 years. Those named are Liverpool, Newquay and Humberside.  On 31st March Liverpool announced that Flybe would operate a service up to 3-times-a-day to Schiphol starting on September 7th.  ie. They would not then need links to Gatwick or to Heathrow.


Liverpool John Lennon Airport says ‘we will talk to anyone’ as Gatwick announces £20m fund

13 April 2015

By Tony McDonough (Liverpool Echo)

Liverpool John Lennon Airport says it would be happy to speak to Gatwick Airport about regional routes.

Liverpool John Lennon Airport LJLA) has given a cautious welcome to an announcement from Gatwick Airport about a £20m fund to support regional air routes.

Gatwick says it will establish the fund if it gets the nod from the Government for a second runway.

LJLA, which is already in talks with Gatwick’s bitter rival Heathrow with a view to establishing a route, said it was happy to talk to any airport or airline about new services.

However, Gatwick’s offer would have far less appeal than Heathrow’s to Liverpool Airport because it does not offer a direct global hub link.

A spokesman for LJLA told ECHO Business: “We are always open to suggestions for new routes and we are happy to speak to anyone.

“We will take a close look at Gatwick’s proposals over the next few days.”

Heathrow, which is offering a £10m fund to support regional routes as part of its expansion proposals, would be able to offer LJLA hub access to airlines operating routes across the world.

Less than two weeks ago, Liverpool announced that regional airline Flybe would operate a three-times-a-day hub link to Amsterdam starting on September 7.

Gatwick currently serves 11 destinations within the UK compared with seven at Heathrow. The fund can be used to incentivise airlines to introduce new services.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate said: “Gatwick has always been serious about encouraging the growth and development of a strong network of competing airports around the UK.

“This fund – and the measures we propose to support it – will improve connectivity to London for those that need it.”




Flybe to start “up to 3 flights per day” between Liverpool and Schiphol for links to destinations across the world

Regional airline Flybe will be starting flights between Liverpool and Schiphol (Amsterdam) from September 7th 2015. From Schiphol, passengers can transfer to a range of long haul destinations, avoiding having to fly to Heathrow in order to transfer. There will be up to three flights per day.  The airport says: “Details of which airlines passengers will be able to connect onwards with will be announced shortly, but flights are expected to coincide with onward connections at Amsterdam to destinations such as New York, Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and Toronto.”  Interlining is crucial to the route’s success.  Re-establishing the link to Amsterdam is a cause for celebration for the airport, which was dismayed when KLM, withdrew its Schiphol connection in 2012 following a cull of its route network. Liverpool airport hopes the Schiphol link would benefit Merseyside and North Wales travellers who want to connect with the rest of the world, for business. As well as making it easier for Brits to fly abroad on leisure trips, it might encourage inwards tourism too. Heathrow has offered to spend money getting links with Liverpool, and now Gatwick is trying to as well.… to avoid the business going to Schiphol.



See earlier:

Gatwick rushes to offer money – if it gets a 2nd runway – to support and incentivise new domestic air services

After Heathrow got itself some good publicity in its runway campaign, by saying it would spend £10 million to set up some new regional routes, Gatwick has been panicked into doing the same. It appears to have had to rush out a paper, stating it will spend £20 million over 10 years to strengthen domestic air services. Only if it gets a second runway. The paper setting out its plan contains little text, and gives no references or sources for the figures it uses. Gatwick says it already serves 11 destinations within the UK compared with 7 at Heathrow. Gatwick says its plans for a 2nd runway will “encourage the growth of regional airports and the development of international services outside London and the South East” though it does not explain how. It probably means that if there are more long haul flights from an expanded Heathrow, there would be less market demand for these flights from regional airports, and they would thus suffer (which is true). Following what Heathrow has already offered, Gatwick says it will consult on reducing landing charges for regional flights. If Gatwick wasn’t so busy lobbying around Heathrow, and with negative campaigning about Heathrow, it might have thought of some of these ideas for itself, rather than just being a pastiche of Heathrow.

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Flybe accuses Gatwick of ignoring UK regions

Saad Hammad, the chief executive of Flybe, has criticised Gatwick for failing to address the needs of Britain’s regions, in its attempt to win support for its second runway. The head of the UK’s biggest regional airline said that Heathrow had been “more specific about what they are going to do” on take-off and landing slots and on charges for domestic flights and “I don’t think Gatwick has been as sensitive as we would like…. Heathrow has one up on Gatwick in terms of listening to regional needs and requirements.” Heathrow has said it would look at cutting charges for regional flights as part of a regular review of fees, though no binding commitment has been made. These cuts are largely to deter passengers flying via Schiphol or other European hubs, rather than concern for the regional airports. Flybe has no flights into Heathrow and only one from Gatwick to Newquay. It sold 25 pairs of slots to easyJet in 2013. A spokesman for Gatwick said that it had the “best” regional links of any London airport and would remain significantly cheaper than Heathrow, even if Heathrow reduced their domestic fees. Gatwick said it is planning to give details of its proposals on fees further later this month. It has claimed its landing charges would not rise above £15 per passenger, but only it gets a 2nd runway and Government agrees a contract not to allow any other runway in the south east for 30 years ….

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Heathrow to reduce charges on domestic flights from £29.59 to £19.59 from Ist Jan 2016 – to deter passengers flying via Schiphol etc

Heathrow plans to cut the fees it charges airlines for domestic passengers. It says that from 1st January 2016 it will reduce the minimum departure charge for all flights (currently £1,406) to £1,268.40 per domestic flight. It will also cut the charge from £29.59 to £19.59 per passenger, in a bid to increase the number of passengers flying between UK regional airports and Heathrow. Heathrow serves just 7 regional destinations, down from 18 in 1990. It hopes the lower charges on domestic routes would encourage fuller planes and make more efficient use of the limited number of slots for regional flights, which are less profitable for airlines than long haul flights. Heathrow also says it will reduce minimum charges per plane to £1,592.15 for EU flights and £2,689.82 for non-EU destinations. It will also cut the per passenger charge for passengers flying to European destinations by £5 to £24.59. They plan instead to charge more for the noisiest planes, and those that emit more NOx – with the overall changes revenue neutral. The aim is discouraging passengers flying via European airports like Schiphol, and using Heathrow instead. The environmental fees would rise from being 21% to being 28% of total airport charges. Heathrow also say that, if they get a 3rd runway, they would open 5 new domestic routes, including Humberside, Newquay and Liverpool.

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Liverpool John Lennon Airport boss says demand exists for two global hub links

9 April 2015
By Tony McDonough (Liverpool Echo)

Flybe to begin connecting flights to Amsterdam from LJLA in September – as talks continue with Heathrow

From September Flybe will offer flights from Liverpool to Amsterdam connecting to long-haul destinations such as Hong Kong and Toronto

Dutch airline KLM’s hub link to Amsterdam Schiphol had been launched in a fanfare just two years previously but [in mid- Decmeber 2011 it was axed] – with the last flights taking off in March 2012.

It was the route directly linking Liverpool to the world – and the world to Liverpool. It’s loss left LJLA executives shellshocked.

In the teeth of the worst economic downturn for decades KLM had embarked on a ruthless cull of its routes. Liverpool to Amsterdam was doing ok, but ok wasn’t enough.

On the day of the announcement, Craig Richmond, chief executive of LJLA parent group Peel Airports, vowed to re-establish a hub link.

Sometimes such words can be taken with a pinch of salt – a defiant last stand. However, just over two years later, the airport has made good on its promise.

Last week it was revealed that UK-based regional airline Flybe was to take up the hub baton – offering up to three flights a day from LJLA to the same destination tried by KLM – Amsterdam Schiphol – starting on September 7 this year.

Crucial to the success of any hub connection is offering the facility where passengers can walk onto their connecting flight without having to check in their luggage again.

Easyjet has already operated a regular service to Amsterdam from Liverpool for several years but doesn’t offer connections on to other destinations.

Flybe operates hub connections with a number of airlines including KLM, Air France, Etihad and BA and will offer more details in the coming weeks about which carriers will figure in the connection with Liverpool.

“This agreement with Flybe is massive,” LJLA chief executive Andrew Cornish told ECHO Business this week.

“This is the right time because the economy is on the up – not just across the UK but also here in the Liverpool city region.”

Liverpool John Lennon Airport chief executive Andrew Cornish.Liverpool John Lennon Airport chief executive Andrew Cornish.
Mr Cornish believes the Flybe route will succeed, despite the closure of the similar KLM link in 2012.

“The way things were in the past meant it was a bad time in terms of the economic situation. This time, I believe, we are destined for success,” he added.

The news of the hub link came just a week after it was revealed that London’s Heathrow Airport announced a new package of commitments linked to its plans for expansion.

If it gets the green light to expand capacity it would launch a £10m route development fund to provide start-up support for five new routes between airports like LJLA and Heathrow, where needed, to encourage airlines to set up links.

Because Heathrow has been full for the past 10 years many airlines have been forced to use available capacity for their long-haul flights, at the expense of domestic routes.

As a result, the number of regional connections from Heathrow has fallen from 18 in 1990 to just seven today.

Now the tantalising possibility of a new link with the UK’s number one hub airport could become a reality within the next couple of years.

In recent days it has also been revealed that Heathrow plans to cut the amount it charges airlines to fly passengers to other parts of the UK by a third, in a bid to boost the number of domestic flights.

The airport said it expects the reduction in the domestic passenger charge, from £29.59 to £19.59, to be passed on to flyers. This boosts the economic viability of any route between Liverpool and Heathrow.

And Mr Cornish believes there is a strong enough demand to justify hub links to both Heathrow and Amsterdam from LJLA.

He explained: “I believe there is enough demand to sustain two hub connections There are a million-and-a-half passengers within and around the Liverpool city region who are currently using other airports.

“We are positioned absolutely in the right place to persuade those people to use Liverpool. People want to use Liverpool Airport and what we need to do is use what we are good at and not worry about what other airports are doing.

“The lowering of the landing charges at Heathrow is good news and will be really helpful. We continue to be involved in dialogue with them.”

Paul Simmons, Flybe’s chief commercial officer, told ECHO Business that negotiations with LJLA had taken several months but said the fact that the airline has already operated routes out of Liverpool meant there was a “level of trust” between the two parties.

He was also relaxed about the possibility of a second hub service connecting Liverpool with Heathrow. He said: “We wouldn’t have a problem with that – we may even operate it ourselves. I think Liverpool could sustain two, even three hubs.”

Mr Simmons was also confident that Flybe’s route could succeed where KLM’s ultimately failed.

“We operate a low-cost model – the aircraft we use are cheaper than jets,” he explained.

“We also offer a quality of product that appeals to the business traveller in particular.

“Around 50% of our customers are business travellers compared to airlines such as Easyjet and Ryanair where that figure is lower.

“We are an old school airline that can connect you onto other airlines by booking a single ticket. With a combination of point-to-point and connector traffic, and our low cost base, we believe we have the right model to succeed.”