Welcome to Regional & City Airports

Regional & City Airports (RCA) is a leading UK regional airport operator, led by a team with proven commercial and operational expertise in both the airport and airline sectors. RCA owns Bournemouth Airport, Coventry Airport, Exeter Airport and Norwich Airport, and operates Solent Airport Daedalus on behalf of Fareham Borough Council.

RCA also operates XLR Executive Jet Centres (XLR), the renowned boutique FBO business. XLR has centres at Birmingham, Bournemouth, Exeter and Liverpool airports.

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What we do

Regional & City Airports’ 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.

RCA has built a reputation as an efficient, safe and commercial airport operator, driving improvements to route development, commercial revenues, operating costs and capital investment to deliver a consistently sound commercial return. As we grow we are increasingly able to leverage significant buying power and shared expertise.

What we stand for

4 Steps to Realise the Potential of the UK's Regional Airports

Regional airports play a hugely important role in the UK. They provide national and international connectivity. They are enablers of economic growth. They are significant direct and indirect employers of skilled people. As we recover from the global pandemic, the Government has clear opportunities to work with regional airport owners and operators to build on the existing attributes of regional airports and further increase the economic benefits that they can offer both to their regions and the UK.

Regional & City Airports (RCA) is a leading UK regional airport operator, led by a team with proven commercial and operational expertise in both the airport and airline sectors. RCA owns Bournemouth Airport, Coventry Airport, Exeter Airport and Norwich Airport, and operates Solent Airport Daedalus on behalf of Fareham Borough Council.

Additionally, RCA operates the growing XLR Executive Jet Centres FBO business that currently has operations at Birmingham, Bournemouth, Liverpool and Exeter. Prior to COVID19, RCA served 2.3m passengers and managed over 215,000 aircraft movements a year, serving as a gateway to and from the UK for the 7m people that live in the airports’ passenger catchment areas.

RCA’s Airports have tremendous potential to provide more connectivity to more people and a home for even more aviation and non-aviation related businesses and their employees. The Government has the opportunity now to take bold decisions to unlock this potential. RCA urges the Government to take action today and implement four specific policies.

1. Designate regional airports as freeports

A freeport is a defined area where goods can be imported, manufactured or reexported inside the allocated boundaries without incurring domestic customs duties or taxes. Following the UK’s departure from the European Union, the UK Government should extend the existing freeport scheme to include  any regional airport that wishes to join the initiative.

This would enable frictionless trade to and from the UK and limit any negative impacts of the new UK/ EU customs arrangements. Research conducted on a free port initiative for Northern sea ports by the Centre for Policy Studies claims that free ports could create over 86,000 jobs for Northern communities, proving this policy could serve the Government’s objective of addressing geographical imbalance in economic growth.

With regional airports located across the country, a free ports initiative for regional airports would spur investment and growth for the whole of the UK and provide new opportunity for regional airports, supporting their long-term survival and encouraging the possibility for new passenger routes, as well as freight routes, in the future. RCA urges the Government to seriously examine extending the free ports initiative.

2. Accelerate the reduction in domestic Air Passenger Duty

Air Passenger Duty (APD) undermines the viability, sustainability and potential of regional airports.

The impact of APD on the economics and demand for domestic connectivity, which by definition often requires connectivity between regional airports, is acute, with domestic journeys currently being subject to double taxation whereby the short haul rate of APD is charged twice on a return journey.

RCA therefore welcomes the Government’s decision to halve the rate of domestic APD announced at the November 2021 budget to correct this inequality and to support the reintroduction and sustainability of the UK’s domestic air route network. However, the decision to wait until April 2023 to put this into effect means the Government is missing a vital opportunity to support the recovery of domestic connectivity in 2022 following the devastating impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the UK’s regional air network.

RCA therefore calls on the Government to implement the reduction in domestic APD in April 2022.

3. Renewing and expanding the Enterprise Zone network to cover regional airports

Renewing and expanding the network of Enterprise Zones to cover regional airports will help to address regional imbalance for economic growth and make regional airports attractive places to invest – helping to secure their long-term future.

Airports are generally accessible and outside conurbations. They have land available, are existing employment centres, and are generally in the wider region’s plans as an area for growth and development. Designating these airports as Enterprise Zones will therefore help to achieve this development potential.

With the shift in emphasis towards sustainable aviation as part of the national commitment to Net Zero 2050, regional airports can play a key role as locations for new and emerging technology development, testing, manufacturing and support. Enterprise Zone status will help ensure that regional airports are attractive locations for these activities. In turn this will help to ensure the long-term economic success of regional airports.

RCA urges the Government to designate regional airports as Enterprise Zones with a presumption in favour of development.

4. Invest in transport infrastructure to maximise the connectivity of regional airports

Access to a regional airport is critical – for passengers, staff and employees of businesses located there. In order to maximise the connectivity potential and subsequent economic benefits that regional airports provide to local communities, it is essential that they enjoy good local transport links.

Regional airports should be recognised as nationally significant infrastructure which should be a focus of appropriate road and rail investment to support development and growth.

RCA urges the Government to ensure policy prioritises investment in local connections to regional airports.

Download RCA's Mini Manifesto, 'Preparing for Take off' >>

Preparing for Take off Manifesto