Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Growing Airport Still Wants to Land US Deal

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Growing Airport Still Wants to Land US Deal

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional affairs correspondent

THE aviation minister has ruled out Government support for flights from Newcastle to the USA, as the city's airport kick-started its ambitious plans to create thousands of jobs.

Transport minister Robert Goodwill said he would not be using taxpayer cash to back direct flights from Tyneside during a visit to help launch Newcastle Airport's new business park.

Airport chiefs say a PS30m plan for six office buildings next to the Callerton Parkway Metro station will create around 1,000 jobs, part of a wider plan to expand the airport site along with property firm UK Land Estates.

Meeting with senior airport staff yesterday, Mr Goodwill said the Government was committed to backing "local international airports".

However, asked if he would go as far as to offer support for the new flights - connections which would bring a much needed boost to the regional economy - the Scarborough and Whitby MP said he would leave it to the airport to sell itself abroad rather than offering Government financial support.

Flights to the US have been a target of not just the airport, with its seven council owners, but also the job-creating local enterprise partnership and the Chamber of Commerce, who have all backed the need for expansion westwards. But yesterday Mr Goodwill put on hold any hope of Government subsidy.

He said: "If you look at flights to Dubai you can see what can be done without Government funding.

"That successful route has been made without the need to use taxpayers' money to subsidise it." Mr Goodwill added: "I know that there has been some lobbying about, say, relaxing the air passenger duty here. The worry is that that could create a churn where the flights are only here until that subsidy goes.

"We have not been persuaded by the arguments so far. The Dubai flights are very well subscribed flights, the case can be made (to the operators) I think for flights into New Jersey or wherever in America. …

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