The Department of Transport says the ‘start up aid’ will be made available from the Regional Air Connectivity Fund, which was announced by the government in June 2013 and is open to airports with fewer than five million passengers per year.
This fund has already been partly distributed to support strategic routes to London from Newquay and Dundee, but is now being extended to bids for more routes.
The €73.1 million is available to cover three years of financial support for start-up aid, with €22.8 million being made available to bids in 2015/16 and around €26 million a year for each of the remaining years.
The aid will create new routes, boosting connectivity, increasing trade and supporting jobs in the regions.
Aviation minister, Robert Goodwill, says: “Smaller airports are vital to local economies and ensuring they thrive is a key part of our long term economic plan.
“I want to encourage the industry to apply to expand their routes, to generate UK growth and jobs, as well as boosting our trade links with countries all over the world.”
Chief secretary to the treasury, Danny Alexander, says he created the Regional Air Connectivity Fund because, as a Highlander, he appreciates the immense value of regional air routes to people living in remote communities across the UK.
“This fund has already supported valuable services like Newquay’s London route, which has a return of 2.5 for every pound invested, making it great value for taxpayers too.
“I hope this further funding will help other areas sustain economically important connections too.”
To apply for the funding, airports and airlines will have to provide evidence to show their proposed route will generate local benefits and represents value for money.
The initial application stage will run for five weeks, closing on Wednesday, February 25 before ministers will announce a shortlist of bids in March 2015, and a list of successful bidders will then be published in June.