The MD of Norwich International will no doubt get some positive coverage in the next few days as his controversial charge to leave Norwich has now raised £1m and they can start splashing our cash. The spending projects include improving safety and, most importantly, extra investment into the fire services. This is good stuff, obviously, and we should welcome this sort of investment. However, what is curious is the total rejection of the idea that the development charge is far from developing the airport, it is holding it back.
I say this for 2 key reasons; Airport bosses claim that the charge is, at least, upfront open and honest. They claim that other airports hide their charges on things like parking, trolley hire and the like. This really doesn't stand up to scrutiny. In all those things, the consumer has the choice; airport parking is a vicious market where prices are being driven down - when we parked at Stanstead going to NY in May Half-Term we got an excellent deal by choosing a company outside of the airport. Similarly if I don't like the cost of trolley hire, I choose to pull my own luggage. Simple. However the Norwich development charge doesn't give you that choice; you have to pay it in order to board your flight. Open and honest it may be, but so too is it unavoidable unlike all of the other charges at other airports.
And secondly there is the total lack of understanding of human nature. People hate paying this so-called charge (we call it a tax) upfront because you physically see the money changing hands - on top of the existing airport tax we pay on the ticket cost. Travelling from Norwich is expensive but it's convenient. They should have a cornered market for the airport here in Norfolk, but still the chopping and changing of flight routes and the development charge drive people to Stanstead, Luton and even Heathrow.
Norwich Airport is a fantastic resource and I support it 100%, but whereas it should have cornered market and a great profitable business, it has succeeded in antagonising large sections of its natural market - people in Norwich and Norfolk. I wish that the MD would think again about this.