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£508m Plan To Expand Scots Airports

Sat Feb 22, 2003 7:29 pm

this just appeared in todays Scotsman:

£508m plan to expand Scots airports
ALASTAIR DALTON TRANSPORT CORRESPONDENT

A MAJOR expansion of Edinburgh and Glasgow airports is to be launched five years early to cope with the soaring number of passengers.

BAA Scottish Airports yesterday announced that a £508 million development plan would start in 2005 to enable the airports to handle 75 per cent more passengers in ten years time.

The terminals will be extended by 75 per cent at Edinburgh and 40 per cent at Glasgow, which is the larger of the two.

However, possible new runways are still subject to a separate government consultation.

Donal Dowds, the managing director of BAA Scottish Airports, told a transport conference in Edinburgh: "We are having to bring forward investment from 2010 on the expectation of future traffic growth."

Under the plans, check-in areas and departure lounges will be expanded, with new piers built to provide more direct connections to aircraft.

The scheme will also include previously-announced measures to increase the capacity of each airport?s runway by half, which are also being brought forward from 2010.

Taxiways will be upgraded and extended to enable aircraft to leave the runway more quickly, with new fast exits that planes could use at speed, rather than having to brake to negotiate right-angle turns.

BAA said the first stage, an £11 million taxiway project at Edinburgh, would be approved shortly.

The improvements will see the airports each able to handle 14 million passengers a year, compared to the current 8.5 million capacity at Glasgow and eight million at Edinburgh.

Edinburgh is BAA?s second fastest growing airport after Stansted, with a 15 per cent increase in passengers over the last year to nearly seven million.

Glasgow has grown by 7.6 per cent to 7.8 million.

The rapid growth has been largely fuelled by the expansion of no-frills airlines like Easyjet, with others such as Flyglobespan.com and Air-Scotland.com launching services next month.

The scale of the planned expansion at Edinburgh is similar to that of the last major development at the airport. This comprised the opening of a £100 million new domestic terminal in 2000, with a new international arrivals area completed the following year.
A new £60 million terminal and new £40 million international pier at Glasgow was finished ten years ago.

A government white paper, expected in the autumn after the consultation exercise, will address the issue of new runways.
Whitehall officials are understood to favour a second runway at Edinburgh, rather than Glasgow, in the long term. The consultation document argues that the option has the most benefits and fewest drawbacks.

Mr Dowds said BAA, which also runs Aberdeen airport, was discussing 15 possible new European services from Scotland with nine major airlines.

He pledged to increase BAA?s five-year, £60 million fund for attracting new routes to £100 million if required.

He said some landing-charge discounts to airlines launching new services had been increased from 30-50 per cent to 80 per cent, with the discount period extended.
Mr Dowds said landing charges at BAA?s three Scottish airports had fallen by a quarter in real terms over the last ten years, but they had higher costs because of their relatively small size.
He said the airports? combined passenger volume equalled that of Stansted, which has enjoyed corresponding economies of scale. Staff costs are 50 per cent higher among the Scottish airports, with a total of 191 firefighters compared to 76 at Stansted.
However, Mr Dowds accused some smaller airports, such as Prestwick, of making uneconomic and "totally crazy" offers to attract airlines.

Tom Wilson, Prestwick?s managing director, hit back by claiming the airport was performing more successfully than under its previous BAA ownership. He said: "We are not pricing below cost, otherwise we would not be making profits."
Friends of the Earth Scotland condemned the expansion plans as a disaster for the environment.

Dr Dan Barlow, its head of research, said: "Aviation is the fastest growing source of climate change gases.

"Edinburgh and Glasgow are already spending millions of pounds on defences against the increased flood risks climate change has caused."