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25/10/2016 - Highlands and Islands will benefit most from Heathrow expansion

The Highlands and Islands Transport Partnership (HITRANS), the regional transport partnership, has warmly welcomed today’s announcement by the UK Government that an extension of Heathrow Airport is the preferred option for increased runway capacity in the South-East of England.

Central to its support for Heathrow’s third runway is a plea that Inverness Airport be given three ring-fenced slots each day to allow onward links to international markets – in recognition of its peripheral location.

The long-standing support for Heathrow was expressed in a detailed response to a consultation by the Independent Airports Commission on the three options for new runway capacity.

HITRANS Director Ranald Robertson said: “HITRANS has consistently made the argument that Inverness should be linked to the UK hub airport at Heathrow and the UK Government should move forward as quickly as possible and deliver increased access from UK regions to that hub.

“Heathrow Airport already sits at the heart of the UK’s transport network. It is the only airport that offers a hub airport allowing people to connect by road, rail and air to the range of flights to international markets that business and tourism need if the UK economy is to remain competitive.

“While it is important that the UK can benefit from increased access to global markets including important markets in the EU, North America and Asia / Pacific it is equally important that this connectivity is afforded to the whole of the UK.

“For the Highlands and Islands, geography predetermines that rail - even High Speed - is not the answer for the region to connect to the UK hub airport. Distance and time make air access to London essential both for point-to-point travel and onward connectivity. The proposed Heathrow expansion is the best opportunity for the UK’s air system to develop and our plea is that an appropriate level of regional access will be accommodated for those UK regions who cannot access the Airport through a sub 3 hour rail journey and that our access is protected.

“In the case of Inverness Airport, we would consider that medium to long term requirement to be 3 rotations per day with bidirectional morning and evening rotations supported by a middle of the day slot allocation. Air links to London are so important to the economy of the North of Scotland and that of the wider UK. Consequently it is essential that ring-fencing of new capacity for such links should form part of the Airports Commission’s final recommendations to Government.”

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