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Edinburgh Airport calls for political consensus and competition to fuel Britain's long-term aviation policy

Edinburgh Airport has today called for UK politicians to build cross-party consensus round a long-term aviation policy or risk falling behind international competitors.

Scotland's largest airport also highlights the benefit to passengers of greater competition and calls for more competitive measures to address the acute shortage of airport capacity in the South East of England.

In a foreword to its submission to the UK Government's Airports Commission, Edinburgh Airport Chairman, Sir John Elvidge, and Chief Executive Officer, Gordon Dewar, say: -

"Airports exist to connect people and goods to places and opportunities; to make business and trade happen and to allow societies and economies to prosper.

"Too many times, it has proved difficult to turn policy into reality; this time, for the sake of our future prosperity, politicians must find solutions that can and will be delivered."

In the submission itself, Edinburgh Airport says:

"Successive Governments have failed to deliver new infrastructure, despite occasionally putting in place sensible long-term policy. The critical requirement it would seem is consensus across the political divide, and across Government departments.

"Other countries are pragmatic enough to consider how the best strategic long-term interests of their economies are protected and enhanced through better infrastructure and sensible tax policies."

This infrastructure investment does not only include runways, but also the road and rail links to airports that ensure the UK has a fully integrated transport network.

The airport further argues that "Heathrow's position in West London, and the density of the surrounding population, means it will remain difficult to ever build sufficient capacity to improve that airport's ability to deal with disruption and provide room for more flights, without there being an unacceptable local environmental cost."

Suggesting that the continued concentration of a large number of long-haul services at one airport such as Heathrow may lead to more expensive ticket prices for passengers, Edinburgh Airport is encouraging the Airports Commission to carefully consider a proposal by Gatwick Airport, stating that its "…‘constellation' proposal whereby, over time, Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted all operate a two-runway model, is a realistic and highly competitive proposal that merits further serious consideration as the Airports Commission develops its final proposals for publication in 2015."

Edinburgh Airport was acquired by Global Infrastructure Partners in 2012, and has since introduced 20 new routes from airlines such as Air Canada, easyJet, Ryanair, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.

In its paper to the Airports Commission, it underlines the benefits of competition: -

"Having come out of the BAA airports group in 2012, we feel the many benefits that come with greater flexibility and faster, better and local decision-making.

"Allowing airports to compete through better service and more efficient investment is undoubtedly good for passengers."

"Scotland, and Edinburgh in particular, has made great progress in recent years in efforts to build a sustainable network of direct international air routes.

In its concluding paragraphs, the Edinburgh Airport submission emphasises the necessity for passengers' needs and more competition to be at the heart of good aviation policy, and for the views of travellers and businesses in Scotland to be heard as clearly as those coming from London. The document concludes: -

"It is essential for the United Kingdom that airports policy puts the needs of passengers at its heart, and is designed in the best interests of the country as a whole; further, it must provide long-term certainty of return for international investors and airport owners planning infrastructure developments over decades."

"The UK's air transport infrastructure is a pivotal driver of social progress and economic activity, providing direct and indirect jobs and opportunities to move people, goods and knowledge around the world.

"It is time for politicians of all sides to agree how the best strategic interests of these islands can be developed through sustained and responsible investment in airport infrastructure, with due consideration of the environment and the communities in which those airports exist.

"Edinburgh Airport believes that the plans being worked on by Gatwick Airport represent the most realistic and deliverable proposals in terms of providing short, medium and long-term capacity for growth.

"Whatever the Airports Commission recommends, it is more important that politicians of all parties unite behind delivering the modernisation of the UK's airports infrastructure.

"Edinburgh Airport will continue to forge new direct links to destinations around the world and, through the relatively new dynamic of competition, we will always strive to provide a great service to passengers.

"In determining how to deliver and use new runway capacity, the Airports Commission must always be mindful of the interests of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England outside the South East. The large London airports are strategic assets for the UK as a whole, and not simply for London."