The new owners of Durham Tees Valley Airport are the latest to remove cash from passengers by charging a Passenger Facility Fee. This fancy name can shield anything but what it amounts to is that adults (newly defined by the airport as being over 15) will pay £6 on departing flights and children between 3 and 15 will pay £2. A family of two children and two adults now has an extra £16 to find each time they go on holiday.
And you’re going to love the excuse the owners of the airport, Peel Airports, have given for the charge.
According to the press release it is part of the strategy in “…stabilising the financial situation after the impact of the decline in passengers over recent years.” So in order to attract more passengers, Durham Tees Valley is going to charge more. With economic thinking like that, someone could up as Chancellor of the Exchequer!
The airport doesn’t seem to have considered that, unlike many airports, it has rivals. People could travel to Newcastle instead or take the longer journey to Leeds Bradford. Most travelers will be holidaymakers. They will travel to the usual destinations; the Costas, Balearics, Canaries, Malta, Turkey and Egypt. These are the sort of destinations that just about every airport offers so passengers won’t be stuck for choice. I can’t believe that companies like Thomson and First Choice are going to act as tax collectors to those passengers that have already booked and that they will ask passengers to pay. Durham Tees Valley will have to collect it themselves. So the blame will be put fairly and squarelyon the airport.
I don’t think that there is a similar fee at the two main other airports Peel owns which are Liverpool, John Lennon and Robin Hood outside Doncaster. So it isn’t a question of even-handedness. If this tax raises enough cash will it be long before it is introduced there too?
But the airport has been sneaky. This local tax (for that is what it is) will come in next month. The same time that Air Passenger Duty is raised. Since there will be more publicity about APD, I bet the airport is hoping that passengers will blame the government and not them for the sudden increases they see.