View Full Version : Threat to short-haul flights

13-May-11, 08:46
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Council to campaign over airport landing fees

HIGHLAND councillors are to mount a campaign to retain Inverness as a regional air hub amid fears that rising landing charges at Gatwick and increased competition with Heathrow for long haul routes will put a squeeze on short haul flights into the London hub.
Councillors have unanimously given their support to Flybe who are challenging the increased landing charges at Gatwick and are to seek meetings at Holyrood and Westminster to highlight the importance to inward investment and the Highland economy of daily air links between Inverness and Gatwick.
They are also to seek the support of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities as they believe this will become an issue for all regional airports.
Flybe currently operates a three times a day service between Inverness and Gatwick. The new operators of Gatwick Airport, Global Infrastructure Partners, successfully applied to the Civil Aviation Authority for permission to raise their landing fees. The new charges represent a 15.7% rise for smaller aircraft which are mainly used by regional operators such as Flybe, with a 5% rise for larger aircraft.
Council Leader, Councillor Michael Foxley said: “I am delighted that this important issue has received cross party support as it is crucial that the Highlands have a good and affordable air link with the UK’s capital city.
“This is a key issue for all Scottish airports and we need to widen our campaign to include COSLA and the Scottish and UK Governments.
“Any increase in fees will inevitably need to be passed on to customers and the real danger is that this will make the route less profitable and therefore less viable. It goes against the whole ethos of promoting Inverness and the Highlands as both a place to do business and as a tourism destination. Any risk to our air service needs to be taken very seriously as a loss in service would severely impact on the whole region. To travel from Inverness to London by train takes more than 8 hours and while other areas of the UK are to benefit from improvements to a high speed rail connection, there are no such options for Highland residents.”
Provost Jimmy Gray, Chairman of the Council’s Inverness City Committee, highlighted the importance to inward investment in the Highlands of having a daily air service to Gatwick, not least because of the access to connections to key international destinations.”