Regional airports fly 100 million a year

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The Independent Online

Better connectivity on European and long-haul routes has helped push annual passenger numbers at the UK's regional airports past the 100-million mark, the Civil Aviation Authority said in a report published yesterday.

According to the report, long-haul services from airlines such as Emirates, which operates from four regional airports – including, most recently, Newcastle – and Continental, which has added Bristol and Belfast to its list of regional destinations, have reduced dependency on London as a connecting point.

Long-haul services also contributed a rise in the number of regional passengers flying direct to their destinations and to airports beyond Europe. Eight regional airports, including Glasgow, where the passenger numbers have more than doubled since 1990, and Liverpool, which has seen a near-tenfold increase in the same time, now offer daily flights to 12 or more international destinations.

Harry Bush, the CAA's group director of economic regulation, said: "Regional airports have continued to develop new services rapidly and have put themselves firmly on the map as gateways for travel to and from the regions they serve."

The report, published on the day the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, revealed the Government's Climate Change Bill, was greeted by WWF UK as evidence that the UK needs to make "serious reductions" in carbon emissions.

Peter Lockley, its head of transport policy, said: "The Government needs to do more. The draft Bill ... does not deal with emissions from international aviation or international shipping."

One of the reports authors, Helen Watson, the head of economic policy and international aviation at the CAA, said: "The fact there is growth would make you think there is an impact on the environment. However ... in some cases, direct flights from regional airports are less hurtful because they avoid stopping to connect in London."