UK REGIONAL AIRPORTS are emerging as viable alternatives to large international hubs for general aviation and business aircraft operators as big airports continue to restrict access to their runways to operators.

Ian Fraser, business development manager at Liverpool Airport says, "Large airports are condescending towards general aviation users and they do not play a part in their grandiose development plans".

Andrew Walters, chief executive of Regional Airports, owners of London Biggin Hill and Southend Airport adds: "They are being squeezed out by the more profitable commercial operations."

Regional airports are responding to the demand by offering users a cheaper alternative. According to David Blackman, manager of Cumbria-based, Carlisle Airport "...every airport user is special, no one is at the bottom of the pile".

The increased demand for regional airports has led to a steady growth in GA traffic, with many having to expand to meet demand. Liverpool Airport recently received a £4.7 ($7.3 million) grant from the European Community to help with its projected terminal expansion. A separate GA terminal is also planned. London Biggin Hill airport plans to replace its 6,000ft (1,830m) runway. Work on the £1.5 million project, is expected to start at the end of the month and should be completed, by the end of the year.

Source: Flight International