The shortlist of new international and domestic air routes for smaller airports was announced by the government, successful routes from this latest stage of the Regional Air Connectivity Fund will provide improved connectivity with new transport connections for businesses and passengers from their local areas. Fifteen brand-new routes have reached the funding shortlist, open to regional airports handling fewer than 5 million passengers a year. Airports that have reached this stage serve the Northern Powerhouse, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Chancellor George Osborne said: “We're determined to build a one nation economy, where all parts of the UK are growing and connected. That's why we support new regional air routes. Further funding for brand new routes will support many more businesses and individuals across UK regions as part of our rural productivity plan. This is a great deal for taxpayers too – the existing Newquay-London route, supported by the fund, delivers benefits to the economy of nearly three pounds for every pound invested.”

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “Smaller airports are vital for bringing the country together and creating new international opportunities for their local areas. The shortlist we are publishing today shows the potential for smaller airports to create jobs and drive growth. Aviation is one of the UK's economic success stories and our investment ensures it is shared out across the whole country.”

The shortlisted routes include Dundee-Amsterdam, Doncaster Sheffield-Frankfurt and Newquay-Leeds. The funding will provide support for approved routes for three years. To be successful bidders, the operators of these routes will need to prove they will be commercially viable after that time. The proposed links will also be assessed for providing maximum value for money for the taxpayer. 

The funding continues the government’s support for smaller airports through the Regional Air Connectivity Fund. Launched in June 2013, it has already supported strategic routes from Dundee and Newquay into London. The fund was expanded to support new international and domestic air routes with the final announcement of winning bids to be made in November 2015.