Rival London airports bid for Scots support

Plane at Heathrow Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Airports Commission is to choose between expanding Heathrow or Gatwick

Plans to expand Heathrow Airport could mean fewer direct flights to and from Scotland, if they are approved, according to bosses at Gatwick Airport.

But Heathrow bosses insist that expansion there would better improve Scotland's links to global markets.

It comes as the Airports Commission is due to give its recommendation to the UK government on whether a new runway should be built at Heathrow or Gatwick.

The chief executives of both London airports are to appear at Holyrood.

The UK's need to expand its airport capacity in a bid to meet growing demand for air travel means introducing an extra runway in the south east of England.

The short-listed options include a new runway for Heathrow, a new runway for Gatwick, or the extension of an existing runway at Heathrow.

Competitive system

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, believes Scotland's direct air routes would be at risk if Heathrow were to gain a monopoly by being chosen over Gatwick for expansion.

He said: "The choice boils down to competition versus monopoly. Do we want to protect and strengthen Scotland's growing network of routes by creating a competitive system across the UK, or put that at risk by creating a monopolistic mega-hub at London Heathrow?

"The Airports Commission itself found that in every future scenario, Scotland will have a larger share of the UK airports market if Gatwick expands.

"That amounts to 14% more daily scheduled international services from airports outside London and 50 million more passengers through Scotland's airports."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Airports Commission will recommend one of three expansion options at either Heathrow or Gatwick Airports.

But John Holland-Kaye, the chief executive at Heathrow, claimed that an expansion at Gatwick would result in Scottish firms losing out to rivals based near London while a Heathrow option would "drive more value for the Scottish economy".

He said: "It would mean 16,000 new jobs in Scotland, £14bn to the Scottish economy and that's because Heathrow helps connect Scotland to more global markets that aren't serviced by Scottish airports directly."

Mr Holland-Kaye added that there are currently 15 to 20 long-haul direct routes to and from Scottish airports and a further 75 routes are covered by Heathrow.

He conceded that flights between Scotland and Heathrow had reduced but added that this was because "Heathrow is at capacity so airlines have had to make a choice between adding new flights to long-haul destinations and maintaining flights to Scotland".

Both Mr Holland-Kaye and Mr Wingate are due to appear before a cross party group on aviation at the Scottish Parliament.

The Airports Commission will deliver its final recommendation to Westminster in the coming weeks.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites