Green light for Aberdeen expansion

Aberdeen Airport chief Derek Provan had all his dreams come true at the end of November, when the British Airports Authority (BAA) granted the hub permission to extend its runway by 124 metres.

The expansion, say bosses, will enable the airport to handle larger aircraft, opening up the possibility of new routes to North Africa and perhaps even the United States.

"It is impossible to understate the impact that (the extension) could have on the whole of the north east,” Provan explained. The managing director intimated that airlines that had previously voiced concerns about flying from Aberdeen would now be given a second opportunity to work with the Dyce hub.

BAA, owner of Aberdeen and five other UK airports, will provide the expected £10m investment required for the extension project when construction begins in March next year. The majority of the work will be completed at night, limiting disruption to normal operations at the airport.

Reaction to the news has been very positive. Bob Collier, CEO of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce, said that the extension could help develop the energy industry in the northeast of Scotland by improving Aberdeen’s “connectivity to the rest of the world”.

Scottish MP Brian Adam said that he was “fed up” of having to travel to London for an international flight, and was hoping for an influx of new routes in 2012, the earliest date for completion of the expansion. His sentiments will no doubt be echoed by natural resource barons in the Dyce area, who currently have to travel to Heathrow to catch a plane to oil-rich North Africa.

Aberdeen has been pushing for an expansion since 2006. Despite acquiring planning permission from the local council, the hub remained at the mercy of BAA’s piggy bank for four years. Derek Provan made the 400-foot runway extension the cornerstone of his mission for the airport in September 2010.

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