NEW AIR routes can be great news for the Scottish economy, writes David Robertson
The new daily flight service between Edinburgh and Abu Dhabi just launched by Etihad Airways has real potential to benefit the Scottish economy as we further develop our links with the region.
The new service marks further development of the trend towards eastward travel from Scottish airports which has occurred over the past decade.
It follows Emirates Airlines’ 2004 launch of its direct Glasgow to Dubai service and the Qatar Airways Edinburgh-to-Doha route which began in May.
These routes bring healthy competition to the market and can only be good news for travellers heading in either direction, with an alternative of having to make their journey via London or any of the European hubs. These carriers also offer connections to key emerging markets in the Far East, India and Africa and link to Antipodean nations, an important route for tourism given Edinburgh is currently ranked as the second most visited city in the world by Australians.
Securing direct international routes brings larger aircraft into Scotland, which bolsters capacity for air cargo exports and imports. This provides a great opportunity for Scottish businesses in growing sectors such as food and drink to export more products to emerging markets. Emirates Airlines alone has transported more than ten million bottles of whisky to Dubai International Airport since 2004.
Other key Scottish sectors including oil and gas, life sciences, chemicals and medical equipment manufacturing are also well-placed to see the benefits of further transport channels to the east.
The launch of the new Edinburgh to Abu Dhabi route brings enhanced competition to the market which should mean a continued fall in air fares, good news for Scottish holiday-makers.
For these reasons, the emergence of this and other direct air routes from Scotland into the Middle East should be celebrated. Let’s hope the new Edinburgh to Abu Dhabi service will enjoy the success of existing routes as it gives Scotland another great platform in terms of accessibility and economic competitiveness.
• David Robertson is a consultant with Colpitts World Travel.