A much-hated passenger tax that was introduced over a decade ago at Teesside Airport is to be abolished.
The controversial £6 ‘tax’ to fly from Teesside Airport will be scrapped from June 1, 2021. Called the Passenger Facilitation Fee, the charge was levied on every passenger that flew from the airport. It was introduced by the airports previous owners, Peel Airports, and followed similar schemes introduced to other regional airports like Blackpool, Newquay and Norwich.
The passenger levy was aimed to bring extra revenue to the struggling airport that was at the time witnessing dwindling passenger numbers. Further criticism of the fee was around the way it was collected, using payment machines that did not give change.
The then chief executive of Peel Airports, Craig Richmond defended the charges and even claimed the extra revenue raised would help secure new fight destinations such as Cyprus and Jamaica.
The implementation of the charge provoked a furious backlash from passengers and airlines alike, with many boycotting the airport. What transpired was the opposite of what Mr Richardson had envisaged, passenger numbers tumbled, and the airport went further into debt.
Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said: “When the tax was introduced back in 2010 everyone hated it; it drove passengers to Newcastle Airport and led to airlines leaving Teesside”.
Within days of the introduction of the tax Ryanair said they were considering withdrawing from Teesside. By the following year they were gone, swiftly followed in 2013 by Thompsons.
The airport, which was brought back into public hands two years ago, has seen money spent on its terminal and new flights have been secured.
Loganair have shown a long-term commitment to the airport with an ever-growing list of domestic destinations aimed at business travel, city breaks and staycations. Ryanair who has returned and were offering flights to Alicante and Majorca have announced they are also introducing flights to Corfu this summer.
Mr Houchen said: “We have made huge progress with Teesside Airport in an incredibly short period of time, but there is still a huge amount of work to do”.
Mr Houchen’ s Labour opponent in the forthcoming Teesside Mayoral elections, Jessie Joe Jacobs confirmed that she would continue with the airports 10-year rescue plan if she is elected next month.
Ms Jacobs said: “We are rightly proud of the airport and a huge amount of money has been committed to secure it’s future – £80 million and increasing – so let’s do something wonderful with that investment”. She added: “Under my leadership the airport will play a key part in bringing people into the vibrant Tees Valley”.
Tees Valley has seen an upsurge in its fortunes in recent weeks. First there was the announcement from the Chancellor that the Treasury was moving north to Darlington. This was quickly followed by the news that Tees Valley was one of the first places to get Freeport status under the new Government policy. Teesside Airport forms part of the Freeport.
Ten years ago, the small charge had massive consequences for Teesside Airport driving away passengers and airlines. With Mr Houchen and Ms Jacob’s optimism the airport looks like it is back on track. Only time will tell if the passengers who were driven to Newcastle or Leeds Bradford will return.