London Heathrow T5. PHOTO: Wikimedia.

LONDON – The UK Government has today confirmed that if the London-Heathrow Airport’s (LHR) Expansion does get the go-ahead vote from the House of Commons, then they will aim to protect regional routes and boost regional connectivity from that airport.

The Government announced that Public Service Obligations (PSOs) would be put in place to protect and boost such regional routes and make them exempt from Air Passenger Duty taxes.

This would mark the first time that flights from LHR to regional airports will be safeguarded, which will enhance job security for those that rely on the regional routes into London.

Such PSO route protections are already in place across the UK to protect them from being disbanded.

Issuing PSOs to/from Heathrow would enhance more links to the UK hub and will open up vital connections with the rest of the country as well as the world.

The use of PSOs comes following a previous announcement from the government that 15% of the new capacity will be dedicated to domestic and regional flights.

Regional Boost From Heathrow

Agreements with the Scottish government will provide up to 100 additional weekly regional flights from LHR to Scotland.

“Heathrow is situated in the south-east of England, but the benefits of expansion will be felt throughout the UK,” affirmed Aviation Minister Baroness Sugg.

“About 15% of the new capacity will be used for flights to destinations within the UK or Crown dependencies. And now we are going even further by confirming that the UK government will act to protect domestic flights from Heathrow for the first time.”

The routes could be reserved for specific times and dates to ensure they deliver particular services to passengers such as early morning flights which cater for the business end of the sector.

The use of PSOs will be set out more clearly when the government releases the Aviation Strategy later this year.

Increased Regional Connectivity

The additional capacity at LHR is already set to encourage competition between airlines, which will benefit flyers through the lower fares.

This announcement has had the backing from the airlines like Flybe and easyJet who have both set out their strategy for an expanded Heathrow.

easyJet also announced earlier this month that it intends to launch new flights to UK airports from Heathrow and introduce competition on existing routes, with the hopes of reducing fares by 30%.

For the cargo side, the freight market will be set to benefit. On an average day, Heathrow carries £360 million worth of freight, and with the expansion, it could take even more every day.

Expanding Heathrow would also generate up to 114,000 local jobs and 5,000 apprenticeships, which would stimulate the UK economy even further.