On the face of it, Lufthansa’s decision to switch its service to Dusseldorf from Edinburgh Airport to Glasgow is a simple function of competition, albeit a disappointing one from my perspective (your report, 13 December).
However, a closer look at this move highlights a number of interesting and serious issues, particularly around the use of public money to affect competition.
My starting point is that real competition is a good thing, and will ultimately provide passengers from around Scotland with a better service and range of choices than they have today.
I further believe that public money and bodies, such as the national tourism agency VisitScotland, can and should be used to bring new routes to Scotland, and to ensure their longevity. This is clearly in our national strategic interest.
On the other hand, I would be extremely concerned if Scottish taxpayers’ money was being used to distort competition between two Scottish airports, and if Scotland’s public bodies were involved in the commercial negotiations.
It is now a matter of obvious public interest that we know exactly how much, if any, public money is being invested in Lufthansa’s move to Glasgow and who exactly was round the table as a deal was being done to move a flight from one Scottish airport to another.
Competition only works on a level playingfield, and you can bet your last pound that I will compete hard for air routes, and will not think twice about asking airlines to move from Glasgow to Edinburgh. But I will always do so in a fair, transparent and commercial way.
For Scotland’s people to benefit from the new dynamic of competition created by the breakup of BAA’s unhealthy stranglehold on the UK’s airports market, then that must be the only way.
Chief Executive Officer