Flybe today moved to outline 12 domestic routes it believes can be started from Heathrow early in the next decade.
The regional airline was responding to last week’s suggestion that 5% extra capacity could be added by the west London hub ahead of any third runway being built.
The plan from Heathrow includes a proposal to fast-track extra capacity within four years with an extra 25,000 new flight movements by 2021 on the two existing runways, in addition to a £10 million route development fund being brought forward to the same date.
Routes under consideration by Flybe include Carlisle Lake District, Dundee, Humberside, Liverpool, Londonderry, Norwich, Prestwick, Durham Tees Valley, Doncaster Sheffield, Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.
Chief executive Saad Hammad said: “Flybe is heartened by the proposed plan announced last week by Heathrow. It paves the way for us, as champions of regional connectivity, to jump quickly into action.
“I am confident we are now in a good position to explore the viability and commercial feasibility of introducing a number of critical new routes for domestic connectivity as soon as the new slots were to become available at Heathrow, to and from where many of our codeshare partners offer seamless onward long haul connections for regional passengers.”
At the same time, Flybe will continue to lobby the government for nearby RAF Northolt to be utilised temporarily for scheduled commercial flights ahead of the extra capacity becoming available at Heathrow.
This “readily available option” could immediately serve to link under-served regional airports to London, either for point to point travel or for onward connections to Heathrow from RAF Northolt that is only a short drive away.
“This proposal is independent of any future plan for new airport capacity in the south-east and is a solution that is available right here, right now,” added Hammad.
“It would bring the advantages of additional runway capacity to serve UK passengers in the immediate term and without requiring any taxpayer funding.
“To effectively compete in a post-Brexit environment whilst a third runway is built in the south-east, and in light of the new Heathrow plans, Flybe would strongly urge the government to give an expanded Heathrow the green light.
“Together we can then start without further undue delay to deliver the fastest, most convenient and frequent selection of regional air services that Britain badly needs.”
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