In a submission to the Airport Commission, Dame Anne backed submissions from Aberdeen Airport and Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce to support the proposal to expand Heathrow Airport.
Airport capacity in the South East of England is not just an issue for the immediate catchment area of the respective airports; it affects the economy of every area of the United Kingdom. The recommendation that the Airports Commission makes to the next government must therefore take into account the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom.
Dame Anne said,
As a UK city, Aberdeen is unique in that there are no realistic alternatives to access it from London or other European cities apart from air travel, particularly for business travellers. The strength of its air connectivity underpins much of the economy of North-East Scotland, and with that, the jobs and livelihoods of my constituents.
Aberdeen Airport has grown its direct connections in recent years, with the ability to connect directly with European cities such as Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Oslo and Copenhagen. However, Aberdeen – because of the nature of the employment clusters that flourish here – will always require connections beyond European cities. Therefore, for global connectivity purposes, Aberdeen will always rely on a frequent and convenient connection to a hub airport.
Only the link to Heathrow provides the frequency that enables convenient travel, with 11 flights a day and almost 800,000 passengers travelling every year. Crucially, one third of those passengers are not ending (or beginning) their journeys at Heathrow but are transferring to or from a flight from cities in every continent of the globe. With the global economic growth shifting away from Europe and towards Asia and the Americas, the connection to Heathrow is currently Aberdeen’s gateway to global connections.
Yet, the connection to Heathrow is under threat. As long as Heathrow is full, airlines will prioritise their slots for more lucrative long haul routes over their domestic connections. Over the past decade, this process has seen the number of flights leaving Scottish airports to Heathrow decline from 50 to 35 today. If the Virgin Little Red slots are not filled, this number will reduce further to 26, with Aberdeen left with just 8 departures per day
This is not because the routes are not profitable but because airlines are making the false choice between their domestic and long-haul networks. With expansion, they would not need to make this choice. Expanding Heathrow is the best way of reversing the erosion of air connectivity from Aberdeen
It is clear to me, the future of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland’s Economy depends on Heathrow Expansion. It’s time the UK Government gets on with it and support’s Aberdeen’s economy in connecting it to the world