Extension is ‘number one priority’

Aberdeen Airport could soon be linked to destinations in Africa and North America, according to Scottish newspaper the Evening Express.

Derek Provan, the hub’s new managing director, suggested that an extension to the airport’s main runway would be instrumental in boosting the number of routes available from the Dyce airport.

The airport chief claims that the extension, totalling an extra 124m, could be completed within the next two years, but Aberdeen’s owner BAA has yet to be consulted on the plan.

A runway extension would cost BAA in the region of £10m, a paltry figure compared to the £9-13bn sum earmarked for developments at Heathrow Airport, which is also owned by the aviation giant.

However, even if BAA throws money at Aberdeen Airport, the government’s plan to build ‘better, not bigger’ airports could see the extension axed before the public consultation phase even begins.

BAA recently suffered the cancellation of projects at two of its London airports (Heathrow and Stansted) because the Conservative Party’s election manifesto decreed that rail services and the improvement of existing air facilities should take priority over costly expansions.

Bristol Airport, on the other hand, was granted permission to proceed with a £150m expansion by the Secretary of State, which, while great news for the airport, undermines the ‘better, not bigger’ policy.

As Gatwick was also warned away from large construction projects, it would be feasible to assume that the ‘no expansions, or else’ rule only applies to London hubs at present.

Returning to Aberdeen, Derek Provan has made his airport’s runway plans his “number-one priority” in a bid to get travellers flying to exotic locations such as Egypt in North Africa.

Whether Aberdeen Airport is sufficiently popular to justify the addition of expensive routes to distant places is debatable, but Derek Provan’s plan suggests that the Dyce hub is ready to start competing with its far-larger neighbours, Glasgow and Edinburgh.

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