HIGHLAND airport chiefs have been left “bitterly disappointed” by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson suggesting that expanding Heathrow is a “fantasy” which should be consigned to the dustbin.
Inglis Lyon, managing director at Highlands and Islands Airports, insisted constraints at Heathrow are damaging efforts to attract more investors and tourists to the north of Scotland.
The service between Heathrow and Inverness is the “top-performing domestic route” for British Airways since the airline reintroduced it in May, Mr Lyon said.
He added: “We need another slot but Heathrow is full and, in our view, clearly in desperate need of expansion.”
Mr Lyon has invited the former London mayor to fly between the capital and Inverness “so he can see the benefits that such connectivity is providing our region”.
He issued the invitation in a letter to Mr Johnson’s cabinet colleague, Scottish Secretary David Mundell, telling him: “We have a world-class aviation sector in the country but the constraint at Heathrow, our hub airport, is restricting our ability to attract investors and foreign visitors to the Highlands.”
He spoke out after Mr Johnson is reported to have said Heathrow expansion is the “wrong choice” and “simply won’t get built” if it is chosen ahead of London Gatwick Airport as the location for a new runway.
He claimed the “massive costs and enormous risks” involved in expanding Heathrow make the project “undeliverable”.
“We need to consign this Heathrow fantasy to the dustbin. We need a better solution,’’ Mr Johnson is reported to have said.
The long-awaited decision on whether to expand Heathrow or Gatwick is politically highly-sensitive for Prime Minister Theresa May because of divisions in the Tory ranks.
Mr Johnson campaigned against Heathrow expansion while he was mayor, with his latest comments coming after he was excluded from the key cabinet committee that will make the decision.
Mr Lyon called on the Scottish Secretary to “confirm that the Foreign Secretary’s view do not reflect the views of your government”.