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Runway extension to generate millions for North-East economy

18/03/2011

A new study has shown Aberdeen Airport’s new runway extension will generate millions of pounds for the local economy and provide a significant boost for inbound tourism.

The study, produced by industry experts York Aviation on behalf of Aberdeen Airport, forecasts a major economic windfall for the city and shire.

The £10 million 124 metre extension was completed in October, on budget and eight months ahead of schedule.

The results of the study were revealed today to board members of Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce by airport managing director Derek Provan.

He told members that the new runway extension put Aberdeen ‘back on the radar’ and would allow airlines to operate more non-stop services from the north-east without costly and inconvenient fuel stops or payload restrictions, and bring more destinations in mainland Europe and the Mediterranean into direct range of Aberdeen.

The new study measures the likely boost to economic output and tourism spend as a result of the runway extension. It forecasts a rise in passenger numbers as airlines introduce larger aircraft and expand their international route network.

The report suggests that the new runway extension will:

  • Generate an additional 205,000 passengers by 2015.
  • Contribute an additional £20.3 million for the city and shire economy, and create an additional 110 jobs locally by 2015.
  • Lead to as many as 30,000 extra visitors to the region every year, spending up to £6.4 million annually

The study also found that the runway extension will ultimately support the commercial viability of the airport, enabling it to invest in infrastructure and route development over the longer term; open up the possibility of services to economically important medium haul destinations that could support the energy sector; and send a powerful message that the region for open for trade, investment and tourism.

Mr Provan told Chamber members: “The new runway extension is the biggest single development at Aberdeen Airport since the expansion of the terminal building in the 1970s. And for an airport that has ambitions to become a major international gateway, it is transformational.

“Historically, airlines operating from Aberdeen Airport faced a series of constraints. They had to operate smaller aircraft, with a shorter range. So, they carried fewer passengers and couldn’t reach many of the most popular destinations available from airports like Glasgow or Edinburgh. As a result, we lost passengers to the central belt and elsewhere. If they were able to reach those destinations, airlines often had to impose payload restrictions or make costly and inconvenient fuel stops. For many airlines, it meant Aberdeen was simply off their radar – too difficult and too expensive to reach.

“The new runway extension means that those airlines can now operate non-stop direct services from Aberdeen, using larger aircraft that can travel faster and further and, crucially, carry more passengers. At a time of high fuel costs and increased competition from other airports, that is an important incentive. At a stroke, it makes Aberdeen a far more attractive proposition for airlines looking to expand. Now, we’re back on their radar.

“For passengers, it opens up the prospect of more direct flights to mainland Europe and the Mediterranean, providing more leisure and business destinations direct from Aberdeen, stemming the flow of passengers to other airports in the south. And increasing our reach across Europe creates more opportunities for our tourism industry.”

Commenting on the results of the survey, he said: “By any measure, these are impressive figures and suggest a significant windfall for the regional economy as a result of our investment, in terms of economic output and job creation, and inbound tourism.

“The new extension gives us the additional capacity we need to meet the forecast growth in traffic up to 2020. Of course, we need to work to deliver the new international services that will drive this growth. However, the runway extension is an important catalyst for long term growth and will allow Aberdeen Airport to compete more effectively.in the future. It sends a powerful message to airlines around Europe and beyond that Aberdeen Airport is open for business.”

Mr Provan also told members that the new airport Master Plan – due early next year – will outline plans for further expansion beyond 2020 to meet future growth in air traffic. He also pledged to spend £60 million over the next ten years to improve passenger facilities and increase capacity in the terminal.

Bob Collier, Chief Executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce said: “The Chamber’s board and council have always backed this project and lobbied strongly for it to go ahead so we very much welcomed this report. 

The study confirms what we have always believed was the potential impact of extending the runway at Aberdeen. Now we have a clear set of figures, backed up by solid research, which sets out in black and white exactly what the economic impact of this development is likely to be.

“It would not have happened without the significant private sector investment made by BAA and they must be applauded for that because it will benefit the whole North and North-east economy and community.”

- Ends -

Notes to editors:

The full report itself is available in our publications section

Media Enquiries: 

Sarah Campbell,
Media and Communications Manager
BAA Aberdeen
01224 348500/ 07785 576664

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