Flybe asks UK government to open up RAF Northolt for commercial ops

Flybe has urged the UK Government to review the Ministry of Defence’s refusal to give consideration to opening up RAF Northolt to a limited number of new Flybe domestic routes, selected to link underserved regions with London.Last week the UK Government’s Spending Review did not include Flybe’s proposal to operate twice-daily return services to an initial five UK regional destinations from Northolt. According to the airline, this was despite the opportunity the move afforded to provide improved regional connectivity to London, regional access to Heathrow Airport and much needed additional contribution to Government finances.The airline believes a lack of proper consideration for this proposal also means that the Ministry of Defence’s decision is walking away from substantial benefits such as:
• Flybe routes out of Northolt generating an estimated £3 million in income to the Royal Air Force and a further £4 million in Air Passenger Duty revenue to the Treasury.• the proposal benefitting 300,000 passengers a year from all over the UK, giving them fast access to and from Central London and Heathrow, from regional airports not currently served by either Heathrow or Gatwick. Flybe would look to provide a fast bus link to Heathrow for connecting passengers.• local Northolt residents being ale to benefit as Flybe would use only Bombardier Q400 turboprops, which are quieter than the private jets which currently use Northolt. Flybe proposes that its flights would replace an equivalent number of existing private jet movements, so there would be no increase in the number of flights at Northolt. As Flybe’s Q400’s are quieter, total noise would reduce for local residents.• the proposal immediately giving many of the domestic benefits of additional runway capacity in west London, at no cost to the Exchequer, pending any opening of a third runway at Heathrow.Saad Hammad, Flybe’s chief executive, commented, “Northolt has, for too long, been the preserve of the elite with their private jets. The Government is in danger of turning its back on an opportunity that would benefit hundreds of thousands of people in giving immediate regional air connections to London and beyond through Heathrow’s long-haul network.“Other ways to offer connectivity to the Northern Powerhouse are many years away. In the meantime, this proposal would raise £7 million additional revenue per year for the government at a time when it is making painful fiscal decisions. The local residents of Northolt are also being denied an opportunity to reduce noise. Opening-up Northolt would provide many of the domestic benefits of additional runway capacity now without any additional noise impact,” Hammed added.

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