THE new owner of Bournemouth Airport will ask businesses and passengers what routes they would like to see flown.

Andrew Bell, chief executive of Regional and City Airports (RCA), said he would then take the evidence to airlines to show them the demand for new services.

Mr Bell was at Hurn yesterday with Sir Peter Rigby, chairman of parent company the Rigby Group, after RCA announced it had bought the airport.

He told the Daily Echo: “We’ve got quite a good track record elsewhere across the group of really engaging with both the business community and also with the passenger community to understand where they want to go, how often they want to go there, why they want to go there – to make sure that we can capture that data and take it to an appropriate airline to say ‘There is a body of evidence here that says there is demand, we think a service will work’.”

He said: “Our approach to managing smaller regional airports, like Bournemouth, Exeter, Norwich, like the other airports we manage on behalf of their owners in the business today, is to collaborate.

“We need to engage the airport in the local community and the local business community. We need to work closely with the region itself.

“Connectivity is what an airport is all about and to provide connectivity you need the engagement and support of the region in which the airport sits and you need, of course, to have the relationships and the expertise to be able to take that engagement to airlines to convince them to provide services that people fundamentally want to go to.

“Our approach is very much to act as the broker between the region itself and the providers of services that the people in that region want to use.”

He said there were some “obvious gaps” in the airport’s services. The company wanted to offer passengers the chance to fly to hub airports and on to other destinations from there.

He said connections through hubs would mean “not just people who want to leave the area but people who want to come into the area and invest in this area can do so more easily than they can today”.

Mr Bell added: “As a business hub, Bournemouth clearly is a very substantial operation in its own right, not just as an airport but of course with the adjacent industrial estate business park which has got some really world class companies based on it. “Fundamentally it’s not for us to decide which routes are the right routes, it’s for the business community, the regional community to tell us where they want to go.”