Expansion at Heathrow will create thousands of new jobs in the north and north-east, the airport’s boss will tell MSPs at Holyrood today.
The battle for London airport expansion is hotting up as the chief executives at both Heathrow and Gatwick pitch for Scottish support.
Heathrow’s John Holland-Kaye is in Edinburgh to address the cross-party group on aviation in the Scottish Parliament.
He will highlight £14billion of economic benefit and 16,100 new Scottish jobs, including 1,900 in the north-east and 1,400 in the Highlands.
Mr Holland-Kaye will also say there will be more flights between Scotland and the UK’s busiest airport if Heathrow’s expansion is approved.
In addition, he will warn that the 4,100 new jobs expected to be created in Scotland if Gatwick’s plans get the nod will be more than offset by 14,000 lost as a direct result of expansion not going ahead at Heathrow.
Urging MSPs to “make their voices heard”, he will say Heathrow’s expansion is the only option that will grow Scottish exports, increase tourism and attract foreign investment to create jobs north of the border.
But Gatwick chief executive Stewart Wingate argued yesterday that building a new runway at Gatwick would lead to more competition between UK airports, which would in turn benefit Scotland.
And he warned there could be fewer direct flights in and out of Scotland if plans to expand Heathrow get the go-ahead.
Mr Wingate said some long-haul flights in and out of Scotland, including those to North America and the Middle East, could be under threat from the creation of a “monopolistic mega-hub” in the south-east of England.
He added: “The choice boils down to competition versus monopoly. Do we want to protect and strengthen Scotland’s growing network of routes by creating a competitive system across the UK, or put that at risk by creating a monopolistic mega-hub at London Heathrow?
“In every future scenario, Scotland will have a larger share of the UK airports market if Gatwick expands.”
A decision on whether to expand Gatwick or Heathrow was an “important debate for Scotland”, said Mr Wingate, who also plans to address MSPs on Holyrood’s cross-party group on aviation.
The Whitehall-appointed Airports Commission is considering how to increase runway capacity at UK airports, including through expansion at one of London’s big airports, and is expected to make its recommendation to the UK Government in the coming weeks.