Privatise Airport Operation

When they were last available in the Budget papers taxpayers were subsidising each and every return flight passenger using Ronaldsway by about £30. The Airport Manager and her previous Minister said before the 2011 elections that they could save "at least £2 million pa" in operating costs which they have failed to deliver. Now the private airlines are wanting to take over the baggage handling - no doubt to get better value for money and higher productivity. Why not go further and tender all operations at the airport to a private operator? Ultimate ownership of the airport physical asset could be retained by the state. Tender would require ongoing service quality and safety standards to be met.

Why the contribution is important

The last time I saw (about 3 years ago) the additional taxpayer subsidy to the operations at Ronaldsway over and above income from charges it was, if I recall correctly, about £6 million. Passenger numbers have not increased significantly since then so it is probably still around that amount. Outsourcing the management of operation to a business with the skills to do this should eliminate this massive cost overrun.

Implementation requires a political decision, a tendering process and the willingness to force this forward against what seems to be inertia in current airport management.

by dpfellows on April 05, 2017 at 05:13PM

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Average rating: 4.0
Based on: 4 votes


  • Posted by keshvane April 07, 2017 at 08:23

    A private company would not have a security guard at the entrance to the baggage hall for every flight. Apparently this is to prevent passengers going back down the corridor and onto the apron. Other airports have automatic non-return doors. This is a simple solution to an ongoing expense.
  • Posted by Manxcat April 07, 2017 at 09:31

    Would privatisation risk the same happening here as did in Blackpool, with the operator deciding one day to close it due to non-profitability?

    And if charges and therefore flights were to be more expensive, would that reduce passenger numbers and thereby viability for the airlines?

    I ask because I don't know! We need the airport and better air service, but always the challenge is our relatively small passenger numbers compared to many internal routes within UK.
  • Posted by dpfellows April 08, 2017 at 14:08

    Thanks for comments Manxcat - for information Blackpool had 1/3 rd the number of passengers as Ronaldsway . Airports of similar size in passenger volume terms such as Exeter, Norwich, Bournemouth and Doncaster are privately owned and operated.
  • Posted by Maclirmanannan April 12, 2017 at 21:49

    Got to be a big ticket saving this one. Seem to recall airport director stated £2M annual saving could be achieved if privateised.
  • Posted by dpfellows April 16, 2017 at 21:54

     Maclirmanannan Mr Gawne and Ann Reynolds stated before the 2011 election that they could reduce operating costs by "at least" £2 million per annum at the Airport - no mention of privatisation.

    Two years later the same Ms Reynolds went public to say, if I recall correctly, that she had not really meant that and that she couldn't do it.
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