Scots Government supports Heathrow expansion

John Holland-Kaye

The Scottish Government has announced its support for a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport, saying it has secured key commitments that benefit Scotland.

It said the Heathrow expansion offers “the greatest strategic and economic benefits to Scotland, creating thousands of jobs and providing a significant boost to the country’s connectivity.”

Heathrow Airport will make the commitments in a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with the Scottish Government on Monday.

The commitments include:

  • The creation of up to 16,000 new jobs across Scotland from the new capacity
  • Heathrow will work with the Scottish Government to investigate Glasgow Prestwick Airport as a potential site for a logistics hub to support the building of the third runway
  • £200 million of construction-related spend in Scotland during planning and construction
  • A £10 million route development fund to help support new domestic routes
  • From January 2017, a reduction of £10 per passenger on landing charges paid by airlines operating services from Heathrow to Scotland
  • A significant, long term marketing campaign at Heathrow to promote all that Scotland has to offer
  • A procurement event in Glasgow to enhance opportunities for Scottish firms to win business with Tier 1 Heathrow suppliers

A Gatwick Airport spokesman told the BBC he was surprised by the Scottish government’s decision to support a third runway at Heathrow.

The Gatwick spokesman said a Heathrow expansion would undermine Scotland’s connections with the world, making it more dependent on London and the South East of England.

He added: “Some of the suggested benefits to Scotland are unlikely to bear serious scrutiny, which makes the decision all the more curious.

“However, we are confident that expansion will happen at Gatwick and that competition will prevail over the old-fashioned monopoly being planned by Heathrow. That would be the best outcome for Scotland.”

Edinburgh Airport’s operators have said they believe an expanded Gatwick would offer the better deal for Scotland.

Keith Brown, cabinet secretary for the economy, said: “We have been clear from the start of this process that we wanted the best deal for Scotland and building a third runway at Heathrow provides the most significant benefits to the country’s economy and connectivity.

“We have engaged extensively with both airports during this process and considered all options very carefully. Gatwick’s proposals are also to be commended.

“However, Heathrow’s plan offers significant job creation, major investment opportunities and, crucially, seeks to address how all of Scotland’s airports benefit from the new runway capacity when it comes and also in the lead-up period.

“The potential for a logistics hub to be based at Glasgow Prestwick Airport is also an important part of the Heathrow offer.

“It would support the pre-fabrication of components for the construction phase, with potential for future work beyond the launch of the third runway, bringing strong economic benefits to the airport and the wider Ayrshire economy.

“Growing the number of direct international air routes to and from Scotland remains a priority for this Government, but the proposals from Heathrow offer all our airports a range of benefits that will help them grow passenger numbers and continue to build on their successes.

“It’s now time for the UK Government to end its costly prevarication on airport expansion and support Heathrow’s plans to ensure Scotland, and the United Kingdom as a whole, can begin to reap the rewards on offer.”

John Holland-Kaye, chief executive of Heathrow Airport, said: “An expanded Heathrow would create up to 16,000 jobs in Scotland.

“It would facilitate more airlines flying routes to Scottish airports, meaning more flights, more competition and choice for families and businesses across the nation.

“That also means more visitors to Scotland, more destinations for Scottish tourists and more opportunity for Scottish businesses to reach new export markets.

“This partnership demonstrates how Heathrow expansion can work for every region and nation of the UK. Now is the time for the UK Government to make the right choice and back Heathrow.”