The impact of no-frills carriers of no-frills carriers on airports and in the UK regions

No-frills carriers have significantly changed where passengers fly from. There has been a steady shift towards the UK regions, with many more passengers travelling from their local airports, resulting in a dramatic increase in the range and number of scheduled routes available from UK regional airports. The arrival of a no-frills carrier may often transform the fortunes of that airport, creating more opportunities for those living near the airport, and bringing attendant benefits to the local and regional economy.

The way that such airports interact with their airline customers has also changed, driven largely by the different business proposition that no-frills carriers have presented, particularly to airports that have been historically underused. Such airports are increasingly competing to win business from airlines, vying to offer commercially attractive propositions in order to attract them and thus benefit from the aeronautical revenues and, crucially, the non-aeronautical (including retail) revenues that can be captured through increased passenger throughput. Whilst airports in the South-East of England such as Stansted and Luton were the first to see a major increase in no-frills carrier activity, the growth in UK regional air services has been very fast over recent years, as Figure 1 shows, with the expansion of no-frills carriers at certain regional airports being a particular driver of that growth.

Figure 1 International no-frills traffic from London and UK Regional airports, 1996-05

Source: CAA Airport Statistics