Battle for air links

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - NEWS - By Neil Evans

TRANS­PORT Min­is­ter Keith Brown has pledged to keep up the pres­sure on West­min­ster to pro­tect Aberdeen’s air links.

The SNP politi­cian said he was press­ing UK Trans­port Sec­re­tary Philip Hammond on land­ing slots in the Gran­ite City af­ter he was quizzed over the is­sue by Aberdeen Cen­tral MSP Kevin Ste­wart.

In a writ­ten re­ply to Mr Ste­wart, the for­mer chair­man of re­gional trans­port body Nes­trans, Mr Brown said the is­sue was at the fore­front of his dis­cus­sions with his UK coun­ter­part.

In a hand­writ­ten postscript, Mr Brown added: “I have been press­ing P Hammond, both ver­bally and in writ­ing on this.”

“The de­vel­op­ment of cross-bor­der rail ser­vices and high speed rail in par­tic­u­lar could be ex­pected to make rail a more at­trac­tive propo­si­tion, al­though the ex­ten­sion of high­speed rail to Scot­land ap­pears not to be a medium-term prospect. Avi­a­tion will there­fore re­main the only prac­ti­cal op­tion for more north­ern and pe­riph­eral parts of Scot­land.”

Pas­sen­ger num­bers at Aberdeen Air­port, op­er­ated by BAA, have risen for six months in a row. In July it was con­firmed Aberdeen saw 287,800 pas­sen­gers, up 10.1% year-on-year – the largest rise for any Scot­tish air­port. The Dyce ter­mi­nal had also an­nounced new air links to the rest of Europe with flights from Ger­man car­rier Lufthansa to Frank­furt, one of the con­ti­nent’s busiest air­line hubs.

Mr Ste­wart said: “It is vi­tal that air links from Aberdeen to Heathrow are main­tained so the North-east of Scot­land can con­tinue to be the pow­er­house of the Scot­tish econ­omy. Our busi­ness peo­ple must be able to ac­cess the world eas­ily.

“I am pleased the min­is­ter recog­nises this and am sure he will con­tinue to press his coun­ter­parts at West­min­ster to en­sure these links are main­tained to se­cure our eco­nomic fu­ture.”

Com­ment, Page 6

TRANS­PORT HUB: Politi­cians say air links with Heathrow air­port are vi­tal for busi­ness.

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