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FLIGHT PLAN


B WORDS ANTHEA GERRIE 136 MAY/JUNE 2019


The success of regional airports can depend on leisure routes, but some increasingly offer a viable alternative for business travellers compared to London’s congested hubs


RITAIN’S REGIONAL AIRPORT CHIEFS are feeling bullish, despite recent challenges which have sparked a downturn in traffic for some and forced a change of growth strategy for others.


Smaller airlines were going out of business, Air Passenger Duty deters the establishment of new UK routes, and


the stealth income some regional airports derive from costly drop-off and pick-up charges are enough to induce many business travellers to fly from Heathrow instead, according to a leading buyer. “Even if their nearest airport offers a direct long-haul route on a US airline, some customers prefer to fly from London and transit to a British Airways flight on which they can get points to later use for family travel,” says Steve McGrane, assistant vice-president of global travel at Genpact, with clients based in Glasgow, Southampton, Edinburgh, Luton and Bristol. Loyalty, he thinks, drives traffic to BA, while Heathrow offers the lure of dedicated airline lounges, upmarket restaurants and other facilities for business travellers, which are not prevalent at airports carrying mostly leisure traffic. “Those passengers don’t expect bells and whistles; they turn up at the last minute,” McGrane says. However, a small airport without lounges, but the fast access to gates that travellers at Heathrow and Gatwick can only dream of, is a draw to business travellers,


buyingbusinesstravel.com


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