Heathrow pushes to connect Scotland to growth faster, with more domestic flights from 2021

Issued by Heathrow Airport Limited


  • Heathrow unveils proposals to grow domestic route network from 2021 if selected for expansion – four years before a new runway would open
  • New capacity could create up to 21 daily domestic services – allowing a possible connection to Dundee and boosting existing Scottish routes
  • Heathrow is also proposing extending its £10 discount on passenger charges for all flights to UK destinations including Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness and bringing forward £10 million in start-up capital to support new domestic routes from 2021
  • The proposals to boost connectivity were welcomed by Scottish airports

Scotland stands to reap the benefits of Heathrow expansion four years before a new runway would open, under new proposals set to be launched on the first day of the upcoming Conservative Party Conference.

The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has increased the need to deliver more growth for every corner of the UK faster. Heathrow’s new proposals show how the UK’s only hub is uniquely placed to make the whole country stronger and fairer for everyone, not just London. 

If Heathrow expansion is approved by Government, the airport will work alongside ministers and consult with the community and refine current expansion plans to increase existing capacity by up to an additional 25,000 flights a year from 2021. The proposals include looking to create up to 21 additional daily domestic services whilst the new runway is under construction, meaning cities like Dundee could benefit from new connections to the UK’s only hub airport while existing routes like Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness could see connections boosted.  

Taken together, the package is a huge win for Scottish cities, supporting small and large exporters, boosting competition and reducing prices to consumers. 

Should the Government greenlight an expanded Heathrow, the full package of measures the airport proposes to support Scottish growth would include:

  • Creating space for up to an additional 25,000 annual flights from 2021 whilst the new runway is being built
  • Working with Government to ensure the new capacity – up to 21 daily flights – is dedicated for use specifically on UK routes like Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
  • Bringing forward £10 million in start-up capital to support new domestic connections from 2021 like Dundee
  • Continuing the new £10 discount for all flights to UK destinations from Heathrow until at least 2037as long as there is justification and it is deemed to be in the public interest
  • Reaffirming our commitment to build a supply chain hub in Scotland, directly creating hundreds of jobs

Amanda McMillan, CEO of AGS Airports Ltd said:

“This is a welcome announcement and it is one which will go a long way in strengthening our connectivity with Heathrow. At Glasgow Airport, we will always seek to secure direct links with airports throughout Europe and beyond, however, our passenger statistics show that Heathrow remains the dominant airport for onward connectivity. It plays an important role in supporting the Scottish economy, so it is imperative that our links with the UK’s only hub are not only maintained but, where possible, enhanced. Whilst these proposals will undoubtedly help achieve that goal, I believe an expanded Heathrow will help Scotland increase its global competitiveness by providing access to established and emerging markets.”

Carol Benzie, managing director of Aberdeen International Airport, said:

“Heathrow is the most popular route from Aberdeen International Airport and this is because of the onward connectivity it provides. Following the withdrawal of the Little Red service in September 2015, we went from having 11 flights per day to Heathrow to eight and we simply cannot allow our connectivity with the UK’s hub airport to wane any further.

With Heathrow full, airlines will always opt for more profitable long haul routes rather than serve vital domestic routes, so any steps to bolster our links with Heathrow are to be welcomed. We have long supported the expansion of Heathrow and would urge the UK Government to endorse the findings of the Airports Commission which unanimously backed a third runway.”

Councillor Margaret Davidson, the Leader of the Highland Council, has welcomed Heathrow’s new proposals and their commitment to build a supply chain hub in Scotland. She said:

“In the Highlands and Islands distance and time make air access to London essential both for point-to-point travel and onward connectivity.  As a council, and in partnership with HITRANS, we have consistently made the argument that Inverness Airport needs to have improved links to the main UK hub, Heathrow airport, so the news of potentially more flights is good news for the economy of the North of Scotland. This is a key issue for businesses in Highland and is also an important factor in attracting inward investors to our area.”

James Bream, research and policy director at Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce said:

“Our connections to global markets are vital to the continuing prosperity of the North-east, with more than half of our members rating access to Heathrow as either important or critical to their business.

“Our Chamber has declared its support for Heathrow expansion and this proposal shows that the airport is willing to put its money where its mouth is. It acknowledges the national importance of regional connectivity and the part it plays in driving the UK economy.”

Heathrow CEO John Holland-Kaye said:

“This Brexit Boost Plan is our commitment to making the UK stronger and fairer for everyone – faster.  It would generate around £55bn more in growth than Gatwick in the early years of Brexit. Our proposals for an additional 25,000 flights a year from 2021 would help businesses and families from Inverness to Dundee benefit earlier from Heathrow expansion, while protecting our commitment to meet and exceed the Airports Commission’s environmental conditions.

“Heathrow’s third runway is the only option that can help every nation and region of the UK realise the opportunities of Brexit. The Prime Minister and the Government can now to make the right choice, and back Heathrow expansion.”  

Heathrow expansion already has the support of small and large businesses right across the UK and is the favoured option of the majority of MPs. According to the independent Airports Commission, a third runway will create up to 180,000 jobs, four times more than Gatwick, and up to £211bn of economic growth. 

Heathrow will work with airlines to ensure that expansion is delivered cost efficiently. All of Heathrow’s commitments to meet and in most cases exceed the Airports Commission’s conditions, would be protected.










29 Sep 2016