MEPs back plans to open up Europe's regional airports


Plans to open up Europe's regional airports as part of the revival of flagging economies have been backed by MEPs.

A report by Tory West Midlands MEP Philip Bradbourn said local air links could ease the pressure on congested national airports - but only if they mean clearer pricing, one-stop ticketing and more flexible cabin baggage policies.

Overwhelming European Parliament backing for his own-initiative report means the European Commission must now come up with proposals based on his recommendations.

Mr Bradbourn wants EU-wide legislation to tackle economic barriers to regional aviation and make local airports easier to use.

The report calls for better price-transparency and an end to extra charges of up to £15 for passengers paying by credit or debit card.

It also urges a common system of single ticketing to allow customers to organise their complete journey, including train or coach to and from regional airports at either end of the trip.

And Mr Bradbourn wants to end the "one-bag" rule applied by some carriers which stops passengers taking airport shop purchases on board flights.

The MEP said: "The great potential of our regional airports is being sadly underplayed. They could be the key to reducing the congestion that is choking airports in our capital cities and they could make travel much easier for millions.

"At the same time they can become catalyst for regional growth, if only they could be freed from come of the restrictions this report seeks to tackle."

He said passengers needed "crystal-clear" ticketing and regional airport authorities needed a fairer deal too.

Regional airports could be valuable for regional economic growth but are currently held back by economic constraints he said his report was trying to address.

"At present many accept very meagre landing charges in return for the retail footfall that creates - but then they are undermined by low-cost carriers who stop passengers using terminal shops by counting their purchases as a second piece of hand-luggage - and charging them up to £30 to take it on board."

"Regional airports deserve a new deal and that is what my report aims to provide," he said.