Connecting the north and south

By | Category: Travel news
© Newcastle Airport  - would people avoid Scipol if there were better flight links to the sourth?

© Newcastle Airport – would people avoid Schipol if there were better flight links to the sourth?

More people fly from northern England fly into Schipol Airport in Amsterdam than fly down to Heathrow or Gatwick.

That is based on numbers given by the government in response to a series of questions from Philip Davies MP. In 2015, 1.4 million people flew to Heathrow from northern England and 29,000 to Gatwick so the total is about 1.7 million. But nearly 1.94 million flew to Schipol, which is nearly 250,000 more. That amounts to some 1,400 flights that aren’t going to Gatwick or Heathrow.

Of course some people will be going to Amsterdam as tourists and not to connect onto other flights. But the majority will be connecting at the KLM hub. Why aren’t they using Heathrow or Gatwick? One of the answers may well be the lack of flights available to the south of England. Philip Davies also found out that, in 2015, there were just 1,900 flights from Yorkshire and Humberside into Heathrow and just 10 into Gatwick. Compare that with 2005 when there were 2,520 flights into Heathrow and none into Gatwick. Fifteen years ago, there were 200 flights more than in 2005.

Why the decline? Better rail services? Unlikely given that I have caught the train between London and Leeds regularly for over the last fifteen years and the time has come down from Leeds by only about fifteen – twenty minutes. Trains from Manchester, York and Newcastle take about the same time so an advantage of train over plane is unlikely.

Another issue is that probably existing airlines used their valuable slots at Heathrow and Gatwick for other flights which produced more profit. Newer airlines that might have wanted to compete probably wouldn’t have been able to afford the slots even if there were some available.

Schipol, that is the Netherlands, doesn’t impose APD so passengers flying there would only pay the lowest tax imposed by the British government and then fly onwards tax-free. That could save hundreds for a family of four on their way to Thailand or Australia for example. Except that I don’t see much of a difference in fares from Schipol compared to those from Heathrow.

Could it be that Schipol is easier to transit to a connecting flight than Heathrow or Gatwick? It seems less congested and you can walk from one end to another without having to catch a tube or the Heathrow Express or the shuttle between the north and south terminals at Gatwick.

What’s the real answer? Probably a mixuture of some of the reasons I have suggested.

If the grands designs of a northern powerhouse are to materialise, the north needs to be connected to the south east by plane. And the expansion of Heathrow and/or Gatwick might allow for that. And there is also the little matter of the loss of revenue to the economy by not spending at Heathrow or Gatwick whilst waitng for your connection!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Tags: , , , , ,