As a business organisation we are highly supportive of calls by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry for the future expansion of London airports to take Scotland into consideration, as well as the need to increase direct services from Scottish airports.
In our recently launched report Scotland Means Business we called for these actions as a key measure within a new national infrastructure development plan, akin to Ireland’s National Development Plan, which included a substantial investment in infrastructure as well as the delivery of hub airport services in Scotland, boosting both trade and tourism.
This would be in the same way that other small advanced economies including Denmark, Iceland and Singapore have done. Scotland is particularly well placed geographically to be a European hub for links to North America.
An increase in international air connections with Scotland would also have the advantage of addressing the concerns of business leaders and the tourism industry about air links to London and other global business and population hubs.
One major barrier which will need to be overcome, however, is the high cost of air passenger duty (APD) and its impact on Scotland, putting us at a competitive disadvantage when compared with competitor economies.
For those coming to Scotland APD puts our tourism and business sectors at a price disadvantage given that most international travellers arriving in Scotland travel via London airports.
APD is therefore paid on international flights into and out of London and again on flights between London and Scottish airports.
As our reports have recommended, the delivery of hub airport services in Scotland as well as a reduction in APD is vital to ensuring that our economic potential as a nation is fully realised.