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POLITICIANS ARE FAILING SCOTLAND’S AVIATION MARKET

[ 23-05-2013 ]

Commenting on the announcement from Flybe that it has sold its arrival and departure slots at Gatwick Airport, affecting services from Inverness, Liz Cameron, Chief Executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
 
“As a result of this announcement, we have serious concerns for the Highland economy, since Flybe has for many years been providing a key link to London and the south east of England for businesses across the Highlands.  We will be engaging with politicians at both Holyrood and Westminster to ensure that this situation regarding air connectivity to and from the Highlands is addressed as a matter of urgency.
 
“It is extremely worrying that Flybe has cited both the high cost of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and the lack of a co-ordinated aviation strategy as major factors in taking this decision and this underlines the warnings we have been giving to the UK Government for years about the damage that high levels of APD and a timid approach to defining a national strategy for aviation would have.  Sadly we have been proved to be correct.
 
“Rather than pander to the self interest of politicians representing constituencies in and around London, it is high time that the UK Government grasps the nettle of aviation and acts now to eliminate Air Passenger Duty and to allow the UK’s airports to invest and develop to meet the growing demand from business and the travelling public alike.  It is not too late yet, but it might be if the Government continues to ignore this economic imperative.
 
“Here in Scotland, the Scottish Government needs to get its act together too.  For months we have been promised a new Air Route Development Fund for Scotland but Ministers have dithered and procrastinated and nothing has yet been delivered.
 
“Government action is required north and south of the border to help to sustain and grow Scotland’s aviation market.  Our airports are working tirelessly to serve the needs of Scotland but they are being hamstrung by a lack of support from Government.  Our politicians at Westminster and Holyrood need to recognise the critical role that our air links play in our economy and deliver the right environment and support for both the airports and airlines.
 
“The Highland aviation market is particularly vulnerable, given its geographic remoteness and this underlines the need for Government to consider a programme of support for new and existing services in that part of the country and throughout Scotland.
 
“These are the messages we will be delivering to politicians over the coming days and weeks as we campaign to secure a prosperous future for Scotland’s businesses.
 
 

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