Date Created: 12 June 2012
Scotland’s airports are enjoying a period of major change, both in terms of new airline connectivity to far-off destinations, and investment in infrastructure improvements.
Aberdeen, Prestwick, Edinburgh and Glasgow are all involved in development schemes that will improve their ability to draw passenger and commercial traffic.
Aberdeen Airport is set to enjoy a £100 million redevelopment of its runway and terminal facilities over the next 30 years, and aims to increase traffic by up to 40 percent by 2040.
The airport’s draft master plan, which also forecasts the creation of up to 1000 new jobs, is currently out for consultation.
Aberdeen was the UK's fastest growing airport last year, with forecasts produced by operator BAA seeing passenger numbers reaching four million by 2020 and more than five million by 2040.
Aberdeen Airport handled 3.1 million passengers, more than 97,000 passenger flights and about 6,200 tonnes of freight in 2011. The airport has about 20 airlines flying to some 40 destinations, with a high percentage of business use.
Prestwick Airport, on the Ayrshire coast south-west of Glasgow, is currently looking for a new owner after Infratil, a New Zealand-based infrastructure investment company, put the airport on the market earlier this year.
Prestwick’s search for a new owner is boosted by the news that the adjacent Prestwick International Aerospace Park has been declared one of four new Scottish Enterprise Areas. Prestwick has a competitive advantage in aerospace due to its world-class reputation for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), aero structures and design engineering.
Glasgow Prestwick Chief Executive Iain Cochrane said: “Prestwick is a great airport with a great team and a great future. I believe this is an excellent opportunity for us to attract new investment into the airport to provide the stimulus for future growth.”
Edinburgh Airport has been sold to Global Infrastructure Partnership (GIP) in a deal worth £807.2 million.
Previous owner BAA was forced to sell either Edinburgh or Glasgow Airport by the Competition Commission to break its near monopoly of UK airports. BAA was also ordered to sell Gatwick Airport and London Stansted, leaving BAA with Heathrow, Southampton, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports.
GIP, which already owns Gatwick and London City airports, was founded by Credit Suisse and General Electric, who have each committed $500 million (£310.9 million) of investment capital to the fund.
Last year, Edinburgh Airport generated earnings of around £50 million on sales of £110 million.
Meanwhile, Cityjet is creating a base at Edinburgh Airport to service business travellers to and from London City airport. The Air France-KLM-owned airline is planning to offer more services between the Scottish capital and London City, as well as a new route between Aberdeen and the Docklands site, which is favoured by business travellers for its proximity to Canary Wharf and the Square Mile. More services from Dundee are expected.
The company is also planning to consolidate its operations in Edinburgh with the transfer of 42 jobs to a new base in the Scottish capital.
CityJet Chief Executive Christine Ourmieres said: “The new base shows our commitment for the future – it is the next step of our development in Scotland.”
New flights have expanded routes from Glasgow airport to the Middle East hub of Dubai and also into Europe.
Emirates Airline is starting a second daily non-stop flight from Glasgow to Dubai at the beginning of June and will introduce a first class cabin onto both daily services – the first time this has been offered by a commercial airline from Scotland.
Laurie Berryman, Emirates' vice president UK & Ireland, said: "Our Glasgow route has been a real success story, and we are extremely confident that there is the demand for additional services flying east to Dubai and onward to our global network of over 115 destinations.”
Since it started flying from Glasgow seven years ago Emirates has carried more than 1.7 million passengers and more than 46 million kilos of cargo to and from the Middle East and beyond.
Emirates said the move illustrated the company's commitment to Scotland, and the Dubai-based group claimed the extra flight would generate "millions in visitor revenue, contributing to the overall Scottish economy".
And flights to Europe have increase thanks to the success of the Jet2.com which doubled its number of routes from the Glasgow to 16 after carrying around 250,000 passengers since its first flight took off in March last year.
Jet2.com already provides air services to and from New York, Faro, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Malaga, Alicante, Ibiza, Majorca, Barcelona, Geneva, Nice, Rome, Crete, Rhodes, Dalaman, and Paphos.
Ian Doubtfire, Jet2.com Chief Executive, said: “I think we are really suited to the Glasgow market. There is a lot more to come. We are very confident about the future and Glasgow has a lot going for it.”
A third aircraft will soon be based at Glasgow Airport and a further 60 employees including engineers, pilots and ground staff will join during 2012.
The airline also flies 16 routes out of Edinburgh and would consider offering more in Scotland, with Aberdeen a possible further expansion to the business.
Inverness airport, the principal air hub for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, has also experienced strong growth, handling 1.15 million passengers in 2011.
The airport connects regional Scotland to a network of more than 30 UK and international destinations, including Amsterdam, Bergen, Dusseldorft and Zurich – and is the third busiest airport in the UK for private jets.
The adjacent Inverness Airport Business Park has just secured a £30 million seven-year agreement with leading UK industrial development company Roxhill Developments to develop more than 400,000 sq ft of the business park.
Read more about how demand is driving growth in air routes to Scotland