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Decision due on extra runway

Gatwick and Heathrow bosses raise stakes over Scotland

GatwickThe bosses of Heathrow and Gatwick Airport will pitch their plans for expansion to an influential group of MSPs and aviation industry representatives in Edinburgh.

Both will claim that they will create more flights if their facility is chosen for the extra runway capacity.

Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick, will say a new airstrip at the Sussex base will create more flights, a more competitive UK airports market, and free up important public-sector investment for areas outside London.

However, John Holland-Kaye, his counterpart at Heathrow, will argue that the west London facility will create thousands of jobs in Scotland.

He will highlight £14billion of economic benefit and 16,100 new Scottish jobs.

Mr Holland-Kaye will also say there will be more flights between Scotland and the UK’s busiest airport if Heathrow’s expansion is approved.

Gatwick is running an advertising campaign in Scotland, highlighting the positive case for the facility and claiming that creating a monopoly at Heathrow would have a harmful impact on Scotland’s direct routes. Mr Wingate says it  would force more Scots to travel through London rather than from their local airport.

The Airports Commission is considering three options to increase the UK’s runway capacity and is expected to make its recommendation to the UK Government in the coming weeks.

Critics say today’s presentation will be immaterial to the decision as the consultation process has now closed.

Gatwick’s analysis of the Airports Commission work suggests that in every one of the ten future scenarios examined, Scotland will have a greater share of the UK market if Gatwick expands.

This means up to 14% more daily direct international flights from airports in the nations and regions of the UK, including from Scotland, and 50 million more passengers using Scotland’s airports between 2025 and 2050*.

Mr Wingate will be speaking at the Scottish Parliament’s Cross Party Group on Aviation, chaired by Edinburgh Western MSP, Colin Keir.

Speaking ahead of the meeting he said: This is an important debate for Scotland, and 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.

“On the other hand, the Commission estimates that an expanded Heathrow will command a huge 86% effective monopoly share of the UK long-haul market in 2050, undermining the growing number of long-haul connections built up by Scotland’s airports in recent years, including those to North America and the Middle East.

“I believe the choice for Scotland is more stark by the day. You can have challenger Gatwick, fighting for competition and lower fares in every part of the UK, or the dead hand of the Heathrow monopoly, sucking traffic through London and demanding at least £5.7bn of taxpayers’ money for yet another huge London infrastructure project, at a time when the nations and regions are arguing a powerful case for decentralisation and investment outside the South East of England.”

Gatwick announced last month a £20m fund to help the nations and regions of the UK to start and sustain new direct air routes through start-up and marketing funding.

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