19 new regional air routes bid for start-up aid funding

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(London) International and domestic connections from smaller airports to be expanded across the UK.Smaller airports across the UK will benefit from new routes thanks to a start-up aid fund to back greater connectivity, aviation minister Robert Goodwill announced.

The Department for Transport has today published the details of the 19 bids it has received during the initial application stage for funding from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund.

The funding is available for brand new routes for regional airports which handle fewer than 5 million passengers a year. Smaller airports can play a vital role improving connectivity and increasing trade and helping create new jobs in their regions.

The bids include proposals for air links such as Norwich to Paris, Southampton to Lyon and Oxford to Edinburgh.

Aviation Minister Robert Goodwill said:

The range and ambition of the bids shows how smaller airports can transform their local areas with new connections and trade links. This announcement builds on the government’s commitment to ensuring smaller airports grow, boosting both local and national economies.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

As someone from the north of Scotland, I appreciate the value of regional connectivity for businesses and communities, which is why I created the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. I’m delighted that so many regions across the country are set to benefit from improved connections, boosting trade and tourism.

This fund boost regional economies, so is also great value for the taxpayer; the Newquay to London link that I announced last year has a return rate of nearly 3 pounds for every pound invested, benefitting people across the UK. I hope these routes, if successful in the bidding process, will be well used and will support stronger economic growth across the country.

The Regional Air Connectivity Fund was launched in June 2013 and has already supported strategic routes from Dundee into Newquay into London. It is now being expanded to support new international and domestic regional air routes in a bidding process for start-up aid.

The announcement of those routes which have passed the initial application stage has been delayed to allow the department more time to consider the relevant evidence before determining whether the route meets the European Commission guidelines.

The announcement of a short-list of routes that have met the criteria of the initial application stage will now be made in early May. Those routes that are successful at this stage will then move forward to the strategic and economic appraisal stage, with successful bids being announced in July 2015.

The Regional Air Connectivity Fund has a total of £56 million available to cover 3 years of financial support for start-up aid.

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