The importance of aviation to the North East and National economy was on the agenda today, as Aberdeen International Airport hosted its first ever aviation summit.
Scotland’s Transport Minister Keith Brown was in the city to address the event, alongside speakers from ACSEF, VisitScotland and York Aviation.
Key stakeholders gathered to discuss the importance of aviation, and the airport’s future development strategy. The final, post-consultation version of the 30 year Master Plan was also launched at the event at the AECC this morning.
The panel of expert speakers was made up of:
• Derek Provan, Managing Director, Aberdeen International Airport
• Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport and Veterans
• Denise Hill, Head of International Marketing, VisitScotland
• Tom Smith, chairman, ACSEF (Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future)
• James Brass, economist, York Aviation
Among the topics for discussion were the new customer charter, terminal redevelopment plans, Air Passengers Duty, access into South-East airports and surface access.
In his presentation to the 40 plus senior delegates, Managing Director Derek Provan said: “I have great ambitions for our airport. I know those ambitions are shared by many in the city and shire. You told us so last year after the launch of our draft 30-year Master Plan. The message received loud and clear during the consultation that was that Aberdeen International Airport matters”.
He made mention of an ambitious and transformational new blueprint for the terminal. This includes a purpose built security search area, new facilities, continued work on the international arrival area (including new baggage systems) and a subsequent expansion of the departures lounge to accommodate future growth.
Mr Provan then used his speech to address some of the key challenges faced by the industry, not least Air Passenger Duty, and will again make the case for the power over this damaging tax regime to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
He said: “APD levels in the UK are the highest in Europe, and rising, and it is driving airlines and passengers away -, only last week Flybe announced 300 job losses and the reduction of their fleet, citing APD as a contributory cause for this action.
A recent report – published by York Avation - warned that APD could cost Scotland more than two million passengers by 2016, at a cost to the Scottish economy of £210 million every year in lost tourism spend. Aberdeen International alone is forecast to lose some 200,000 passengers as a result of APD.
“Quite simply, APD makes airlines less likely to launch a new route from Aberdeen when they could introduce a similar route from rival European airports. This, coupled with the absence of a route development fund, makes it increasingly difficult to attract airlines to Scotland.”
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: "Aberdeen has established itself as the fastest growing airport in the UK and this summit underlines the key priorities and opportunities going forward. The Scottish Government shares the ambition shown by the team here, and indeed by the wider aviation sector, towards developing the key role our airports have in making Scotland an exciting and attractive place to live, work and do business.
"More than 22 million people travelled through Scotland’s airports in 2012 and every one of those journeys delivered a return to the Scottish economy. This Scottish Government is committed to doing everything necessary to support our aviation sector and allowing it to grow.
"Connections to Heathrow are crucial and we will continue to vigorously pursue the UK Government to adopt a more pro-active role in maintaining and promoting these vital links. Air Passenger Duty is another area where we continue to be frustrated by the UK Government’s approach. Businesses and families face punitive levels of duty, making the overall cost of air travel prohibitive for many, and we will continue to argue for responsibility over APD to be passed to the Scottish Parliament in the same way that it has been devolved to Northern Ireland.”
The summit was held at the Exhibition Centre this morning (Tuesday 29th January 2013).