LONDON airport bosses are courting the Scottish vote to secure backing for a new runway expansion at Gatwick
Bosses at London’s Gatwick airport are trying to convince SNP MPs that Scotland’s best interests will be best served by an expansion at their site – rather than rival airport Heathrow.
The airport’s chief executive – Stewart Wingate – says that an extra runway at Gatwick would bring more competition and lower fares for Scottish travellers to the capital.
Wingate has also argued that a Gatwick expansion would mean more direct routes to Scotland – whilst Heathrow expansion would create a south-east England monopolistic “megahub.”
The SNP’s Westminster contingent say they will chose the option which promises the best deals for Scottish travellers.
And with the government’s slim majority of 12, and Conservative MPs split on the matter, the SNP’s 56 votes could be crucial.
Wingate has argued to the MPs that a Gatwick expansion would be better for Scottish businesses – with cut import and export costs.
He also pointed to the airport’s commission report, which claims that 50m more passengers would use Scotland’s airports between 2025 and 2050 if Gatwick is selected.
The report also claims that there will be up to 14% more daily direct international flights from airports in the nations and regions of the UK, including Scotland, with the Gatwick option.
He added: “My interpretation of what I hear from Scotland is that more than anything people would like to see as many direct flights to and from the Scottish airports as they possibly can.
“Secondly, the sense I get is that people are after access to London.
“And thirdly, people understand that there will be flights and destinations where you’ve got to connect to an airport to get from A to C, therefore they want the choice to go through London, but they want to compare that with the competitive offerings through the likes of Schiphol [in Amsterdam].
“When you look at the commission’s analysis and the benefits of Gatwick for Scotland, we achieve most of these objectives better than Heathrow.”
Alex Salmond recently hinted that the party would be behind Gatwick in a newspaper column where he voiced his own opinions on the controversial expansion bids.
He said: “At least Heathrow’s rival, Gatwick, has pledged to build a new runway there at no cost to the public purse and guarantee proper access to the capital from Scottish airports.
“The Heathrow option is the worst of all worlds – taxpayers, including in Scotland, would have to stump up over £5bn of construction costs to create a virtual aviation monopoly of international connectivity.”