UK regional airport operator, Regional & City Airports (RCA) has strengthened its strategic relationship with Flybe at Norwich Airport in East Anglia. The low-fare airline will introduce new year-round scheduled holiday flights from Norwich to Alicante and Malaga from March 2016, with the addition of Geneva expected later in 2016.
The partnership will see one of Flybe’s stored Embraer E195 jets return to the skies, and planning is already underway to maximise its use by the airport. The initial destinations will be available for booking next month when Flybe releases its summer 2016 schedule and RCA is investigating the possibility of adding additional routes where there is sustainable demand.
“Since taking ownership of Norwich Airport a year ago we have been firm on our commitment to invest in the future of the site. Today, with a milestone agreement guaranteeing the continued operation of scheduled winter and summer holiday routes from the airport, we have underlined that determination with some very concrete results,” said Sir Peter Rigby, Chairman and Founder of RCA owners Rigby Group.
Ever since Rigby Group acquired Norwich Airport it has been its publicly stated aim to protect existing routes while establishing new ones. Not only does this expanded partnership with Flybe secure scheduled holiday flights from Norwich, it will also provide a firm foundation from which to build for future expansion.
“This is a tremendously exciting time,” said Andrew Bell, who heads up RCA, the airport management division of Rigby Group. “For nine years the issue of reviving scheduled sunshine flights from Norwich has been the number one priority issue raised by our customers.”
The announcement marks the return of two former Flybe routes from Norwich. The airline previously served Alicante from the UK airport from September 2005 and Malaga from October 2005, but suspended both routes in October 2007. Since then Malaga has not been served directly from East Anglia, although Alicante has been linked by a short summer programme flown by LTE International Airways in summer 2008 and a weekly winter rotation from Thomson Airways between November 2010 and April 2011.
Alongside Norwich, RCA already owns and operates Exeter Airport, the home base of Flybe and Coventry Airport; while it holds management contracts for Blackpool International Airport and City of Derry Airport and is actively seeking additional growth opportunities.
Its vision is to help smaller regional airports to prosper through effective management and collaboration - enabling them to benefit from the economies of scale and sharing of best practice traditionally enjoyed by larger hub airports.