Scotland and other regions of the UK must benefit from any future expansion of airports in and around London, an independent economic development organisation has warned.
The Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI) has also made the case for action to be taken to increase long-haul services from Scottish airports by reducing air passenger duty.
The SCDI has responded to a consultation on the UK’s existing airport capacity launched by the Airports Commission.
The commission is examining the need for additional UK airport capacity and recommends to the government how this can be met in the short, medium and long-term.
It is currently consulting on the domestic and international connectivity provided by regional airports and airports serving London and the south east other than Heathrow and Gatwick.
SCDI’s director of policy Gareth Williams said: “Scotland is home to some of the UK’s leading exports and air access through a UK hub in London is of strategic importance to the Scotland economy.
“It is vital that we halt the deterioration of our air connections and we secure for the long-term frequent services from our city-regions to support the economic growth of our industries.
“SCDI has had the opportunity of direct discussions with commission chair Sir Howard (Davies) and it is heartening that he seems to understand how vital our connectivity to and through London is, and that he is making it clear to all those proposing new runways that they must demonstrate how it will benefit Scotland and UK regions.
“We hope that the commission will ensure that new capacity serves the whole of the UK.
“Scotland’s major airports are showing growth again and the success of the Commonwealth Games provides a great opportunity to stimulate global interest in tourism and business tourism in Scotland.
“We therefore want the airports to be able to attract as many direct international routes as possible.
“The commission has asked about the key barriers for new services at regional airports and it is clear that the impact of the highly uncompetitive level of air passenger duty must be addressed.”