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Domestic UK Air Travel

Discussion in 'Aviation Industry Forum' started by Carl0927, Jun 10, 2018.

  1. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    What is the future for UK domestic air travel ? We are not a big country and yet getting around by any form of transportation can prove taxing to say the least ! Our roads are clogged ( don't even mention pot-holes ! ) . Train travel , in my opinion its worse since BR days , more expensive , more packed with shorter trains. It's ok to and from the capital in general for most big towns and cities, but cross country, that's very different, with still scant investment, outside London and SE for getting around.

    And what of domestic air routes, over the years these seemed to have diminished, is that because its cheaper, faster and easier by surface transport ? Hardly , we don't have the array of domestic airlines anymore crisscrossing the country and those we do have often struggle to do well ( flybe , eastern ) . The trunk routes to LHR / LGW have reduced or stopped all together, partly because of plenty of alternative options from big airports like Manchester and Birmingham, and partly because of slot problems at Heathrow.

    Domestic Air Travel needs to be fast if you are delayed just getting to the airport because of traffic or slow trains , or security delays at airports, it makes the short hop by air not attractive. So what's the future ?!
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2018
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  2. Finger66

    Finger66 Well-Known Member

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    I think the problem is the LCC's have taken over and shift passengers in bulk but at very reduced frequency. For any route to work it needs frequency, especially for the business traveller. Frequency is best created by use of smaller aircraft in the 19 to 35 seat range but the aircraft that fit the bill are the Dornier 228 and 328. The Jetstream 31 and 41 or the Saab 340. All these types are getting long in the tooth and therefore unreliable and expensive to operate. So three things need to happen:
    More manufacturers need to take the bull by the horns and build a brand new aircraft of this size as Cessna are currently doing.
    Then it needs Some successful start ups to provide the routes and frequencies as don't see existing carriers interested any more.
    And finally domestic routes need fast track security as the norm as this is a serious time consuming element to an airport experience.
    I appreciate this is a fairly simplistic view but would be a massive start as whole heartedly agree our domestic travel infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired.
    Further thoughts please!
     
  3. TheLocalYokel

    TheLocalYokel Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree that frequency is the key and many domestic air routes, especially those not involving London, are unlikely to be able to meet the frequency that rail enjoys.

    I think the rule of thumb calculation is that for up to three hour rail journeys it is usually likely to be a more viable option than air.

    There is no doubt that rail travel is increasing in popularity every year in terms of passenger numbers, with around 1.5 billion passengers each year currently, double that of a decade and a half ago, and the highest number ever in the history of UK rail travel.

    It's been attributed to road congestion, cost of motoring and people being more affluent and using rail more than they were previously able to afford to do. Reduction in domestic air networks might also have been a factor, but one which perhaps was the result of increasing rail popularity more than the cause of it.

    We all know that travelling by train can be a horrendous experience with overcrowding, delays and cancellations. Whether it's possible to find a new aircraft type or types that is/are small enough and economic enough to make regular domestic route frequencies sufficiently attractive to entice people from the train is an open question. Someone has to have the money and confidence to develop such aircraft first.
     
  4. Coathanger16

    Coathanger16 Well-Known Member

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    I've recently returned from New Zealand where domestic air travel is practically essential. The country lacks a proper rail network and most of their major roads are nothing more than single carriageways. Add to that the fact that any dual carriageway road is limited to 100kph (approx 60mph) and travelling by air is nearly always quicker.

    The major air routes connecting Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch are served by A320 aircraft, but the rest of the network is served with either ATR-72 or Bombardier Q300 aircraft, the former seating 70 passengers whilst the latter seat 50.

    For example, the city of Nelson (population 66,000 or a little smaller than Crewe) has 15 flights per day to Auckland, 17 per day to Wellington and 8 per day to Christchurch.

    The UK on the other hand is not like New Zealand. We have major motorway/dual carriageway and rail networks, and whilst an actual flight between two points in the UK will always be the fastest method of travel, once you add in travel to the airport, time at the airport, and travel from the airport, all but the longest domestic journeys are quicker by either road or rail.

    This is an interesting point. Looking again at New Zealand, the New Zealand CAA don't require security to be carried out for aircraft carrying less than 100 passengers. As such many airports in New Zealand don't have security services whatsoever, or at the very least they have it for the 1 gate required for the occasional A320. Either way most passengers don't need to go through security. I took a domestic flight from Hamilton to Wellington and back whilst I was there and I could honestly have turned up at each airport as they started boarding and it would have been fine. Essentially no more time is required at the airport than you would spend at the train station waiting for the train. I doubt this could ever happen in the UK as security will always be required no matter what size of aircraft is operating.

    Besides the main trunk routes (to/from London & Scotland) I can't see domestic air travel sticking around much longer in the UK unless the domestic flight experience can be made as quick and simple as catching a train. The only other thing that could save it is axing domestic APD, but every government seems loathe to do that.
     
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  5. Jerry

    Jerry Moderator Staff Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    I think the problem for many domestic routes is APD and rail and road connectivity is a lot better than it used to be. I think some routes could work if they are small airport to big hub airport or the airline uses them effectively as a positioning leg for another flight. Flights up against train journeys under 3 hours would struggle unless they are major city to major city. CWL's LCY flight was an example of that.
    Personally i'd love to see more domestic flights between UK airports especially from Cardiff and a LBA flight would be handy but i do believe it would need the UK government to drop APD on all domestic routes to give them a chance to succeed.
     
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  6. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    The APD introduction was the reason Easyjet gave to terminate their Liverpool to Luton route, but this then Virgin has introduced Pendalinos.
     
  7. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    I used to fly British Midland from Liverpool to Heathrow, no I.d required for travel then, I think minimum check in time for hand luggage only might have been as low as 10 mins prior. We won't see those days again sadly.
     
  8. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    I am in Portugal right now and have just flown from Portimao aerodrome in the Algarve to Cascais, west of Lisbon, the Dornier 328, then travels northward stopping 3 more times, stopping at Vila Real , Visau and Braganca. It does this twice a day both ways, like a bus stop service. The plane carries 18 passengers, and it was nearly full this morning, fares are reasonable and it is supported a bit by the government. It appears to be a well used and useful link, and somewhat like what Dan Air used to around the UK.

    20180611_120428.jpg
     
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  9. paully

    paully Active Member

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    Bet they don`t have massive security either, like we would have to do..
     
  10. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    The local police came before the flight was due, we were all checked, so it was thorough but quick....no scanners etc.
     
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  11. michael

    michael Active Member

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    Many years ago, I think about 30 years ago, I booked a day return flight from LBA to LHR to attend the Smithfield Show at Earls Court. I left home above Skipton approx 8.45am, arrived at LBA at approx 9.40am, checked in and boarded the British Midland F100 for a 10am flight. Arrived at LHR, on to the tube and arrived in Earls Court before 11.30am - that was how to travel!!

    Has anyone ever had a rough calculation what the actual cost is of flying a Dash 8, for example, LBA to, say, BRS? I seem to remember reading somewhere a few years ago that a Dash8 uses less fuel flying a route such as Gatwick to Newquay than a B747 does taxiing from stand to take off. If APD was ever axed it would be interesting to know what had to be covered. Would be interested to have members thoughts...........
     
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  12. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    I don't remember their F100s, but I went on their DC9-15s a lot.
     
  13. Coathanger16

    Coathanger16 Well-Known Member

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    Whether or not they were being serious I don't know, but I recall talking to 2 pilots - one flew for Embraers for BA Cityflyer and one flew 747's for Virgin out of Gatwick. The BA pilot was saying about how much fuel they burned flying from Edinburgh to London City - I think the ground crew had overfilled the aircraft in EDI and they had to burn a lot of fuel, so they flew lower, as fast as they could and basically left undercarriage and flaps down as late as they could after T/O and put them down as early as they could before landing all to burn as much fuel as possible. When the BA pilot said how much fuel they burned, the Virgin pilot laughed saying they burn that much taxiing from the gate to the far runway at Gatwick. How much of that was a joke and how much was serious I don't know, but still an interesting idea.

    Flybe have long been lobbying for APD to be axed - specifically domestic APD. It does seem odd that someone flying say Leeds to Bristol pays the same amount of APD as someone flying Leeds to Spain.
     
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  14. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    Wasn't the reason in the beginning for APD meant to on pollution grounds ? Yet UK continues to fail and is fined for poor air quality which I think is primarily from road traffic.
     
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  15. Coathanger16

    Coathanger16 Well-Known Member

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    Yes I believe you are right - the introduction of APD was in an attempt to offset pollution. I think any notion that that is what APD is for has long gone now and it is viewed purely as a tax on flying - 2 passengers flying the same route but one on a Dreamliner and the other on an old B707 (which would be much more polluting) would pay the same APD.

    As for the main cause of pollution LHR has always claimed the breaches in legal limits around the airport are due to road traffic on the M4 and M25, which they claim is mostly non airport related.
     
  16. Seasider

    Seasider Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    I think that domestic air travel is a thing of the past with the exception of trunk routes, Belfast and Scottish Islands. The push should be on improving the rail infrastructure to ensure fast, reliable and ample seating.
     
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  17. Carl0927

    Carl0927 Premium Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    Tend to agree, but need the political will power to think beyond London and SE.
     
  18. TheLocalYokel

    TheLocalYokel Administrator Staff Member

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    It was but Osborne when chancellor later admitted that it was now seen by government as primarily a means of gathering tax pounds.
     
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  19. Aviador

    Aviador Administrator Staff Member I've upgraded to support F4A!

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    Does anybody actually think air alternatives have got any better in the last 20 years or so?

    Personally I don't think they have. The railways have seen significant investment, but for the most part this has been spent on maintaining the track and improving the railway station infrastructure, not so much on improving journey times or rolling stock. The cost of rail travel has continued to rise significantly above the rate of inflation making it more and more expensive and unaffordable for many people.

    Motorways have improved in the last two decades but the number of cars on the roads have also increased dramatically so in most cases the drive times will be significantly lower than what they were 20 years ago.
     
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  20. TheLocalYokel

    TheLocalYokel Administrator Staff Member

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    Driving has become progressively more unpleasant as the years roll by with often too many vehicles for the space available, appalling highway maintenance and road 'improvement' schemes that frequently have the opposite effect, not to mention questionable and, to many people, unrealistic speed limits popping up all over the place (eg, near blanket 20 mph limits in some cities with no thought given to where they are really needed).

    The overcrowding, delays and cancellations of trains has already been mentioned.

    Despite these undoubted severe drawbacks rail usually has the advantage of frequency over air, and road enables people to feel in charge of their own destiny. I know some who wouldn't use a bus if it was free; in fact, some won't even apply for pensioners' bus passes because they value the independenc of driving their car.
     
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