The government is being urged to reduce Air Passenger Duty to boost domestic air connectivity.
The call came from the British Air Transport Association as it emerged that Flybe’s Newquay to Gatwick route is to get £2.5 million of government funding to keep it running over four years.
The Department of Transport said it was now a “public service obligation”. About 100,000 passengers per year are expected to use the flights.
The route had been under threat last year when easyJet, which was expected to take over the Newquay-Gatwick slots from Flybe, said it was not planning to operate the route, blaming lack of demand, but Flybe continued the service.
Flybe has been working alongside Newquay airport, Cornwall Council and the local MPs to gain public service obligation funding for the route, which will operate up to three times a day.
BATA chief executive, Nathan Stower, said: “A few domestic routes are not sustainable without public support and I am pleased that the government recognises the importance of regional air connectivity.
“The government could support other domestic services by simply reducing Air Passenger Duty – the world’s highest tax on flying.
“At £26 for a return ticket on domestic flights, APD hits people flying within the UK for business and leisure particularly hard.
“It’s crazy that the Newquay-Gatwick service could raise up to £2.6 million in Air Passenger Duty in its first year alone – £100,000 more than the £2.5 million central government support provided over four years for this public service obligation route.”
Flybe chief executive, Saad Hammad, said: “The people of Cornwall need efficient and affordable air access to the capital, which is faster than road and rail.
“It is an important step in improving regional connectivity in the UK, which contributes significantly to economic development.
“Flybe’s strategic vision is to give regional customers around the country more convenient access to the wider world. We look forward to continuing to serve our passengers flying to and from Newquay.”
St Austell & Newquay MP, Stephen Gilbert, told the BBC: “This is the culmination of months of hard work to make the case that Cornwall does need a route into London.
“It is worth about £30 million a year to the Cornish economy with about 3,000 jobs directly dependent on that route.”
A Gatwick spokesman said: “We welcome news that this crucial route has been secured and look forward to supporting Flybe’s operation.
“Britain’s economy is driven by the four corners of the UK so we are delighted to offer the south-west a vital connection to London and other key international destinations.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly