From Swindon Advertiser

AEROPLANE fanatics are up in arms about plans to increase ticket prices for next year’s Royal International Air Tattoo.

In previous years visitors to the two-day air show could use their tickets on either date, but organisers have decided to force customers to commit to a single day next year.

Plane spotters were also upset to hear that the cost of tickets will be 20 per cent more expensive than they were last year.

Air Tattoo organisers said that two thirds of visitors to last year’s show went on the Saturday because of poor weather forecast for the Sunday. But the influx of visitors trying to get to RAF Fairford on the Saturday caused long delays for fans.

The new prices mean that fans buying tickets before February 29 will pay £29.95, but plane spotters who want to be free to go on either day and pay on the door will have to fork out £45. Air Tattoo regulars have been posting angry comments on the event’s website since the ticket prices were announced on Thursday.

Jonathan Horseman said: “What a load of rubbish, more money grabbing I guess. So if the weather is bad on the day you buy for that’s a waste of £29 or £45 if you decide to buy at the gate. I doubt I will be going next year.”

“I’m afraid 2008 might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” said blogger Concerned Show Regular.

“You’re alienating the casual family who may only visit one air show a year – RIAT is now too expensive. We are a family of four – and £90 for one day’s entertainment, not including petrol, the bundle of adverts or programme and food is now out of my price range.”

Richard Sheppard said: “What a disgusting way to treat customers. If I am going to pay £30 or more for a single ticket then I should be given the choice of what day I wish to visit. This is a very bad way to treat loyal customers and I think they should reverse the decision.”

Air Tattoo director Tim Prince said: “In the end, we had to weigh up whether it was more beneficial to our visitors to have the choice of which day they came, or whether they’d prefer the prospect of easier access to RAF Fairford.”

A few air show regulars did say they were pleased with the changes.

Matthew said: “A choice by RIAT that I am very happy to hear. I was one of the cars that didn’t get into RIAT until 1pm on the Saturday due to a long traffic jam.”

Peter Bainbridge said: “When you compare the entertainment on offer to a Premier League football match for instance there really is no comparison. Isn’t RIAT still actually quite good value for money then?”

Air Tattoo spokesman Richard Arquati said: “Aircraft enthusiasts are a vocal group but they are also very passionate.

“I am sure that once they take in the rationale behind our decision they will recognise it as being one that will help secure the future of this fantastic event.

“We want to encourage people to buy early and to select which day they join us, in advance, so we can manage the number of people wishing to come to our increasingly popular event.

“By issuing day-specific tickets we have the option to sell-out on either day, if necessary. This will put an end to the uncertainty of the past which made us a hostage to fortune.”