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Success of airport is so fundamental that we have to do more

THE Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger airliner and every local plane spotter knows that it landed comfortably at Glasgow Airport to mark the 10th anniversary of Emirates operating direct flights to Dubai.

Businesses trading overseas want as many connections from their local airport as they can get. It's one of the issues raised most often with me by senior Chamber members.

Emirates service to Dubai is a successful example. Started in 2004 it has now carried around 2.4 million passengers and has grown to a double daily service offering over 43,000 seats to and from Dubai every month. But what I hadn't grasped was the importance Emirates placed on the business done in the cargo hold of each plane.

During the last decade, Emirates has transported 50,000 tonnes of cargo. Seafood, premium whisky and high value engineering products are all now an important part of the economics supporting that route.

Glasgow Airport has seen passenger growth now for 14 months in a row and is well through its £17m investment programme improving the passenger experience before the Commonwealth Games in July.

But the success of the airport is so fundamental to the growth of our exports, to tourism and to inward investment that we have to do much more to work alongside the international hub's plans. The growth of the airport and the growth of its city are symbiotic. That's why Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has taken such a vocal interest in issues affecting the airport's growth.

We continue to push for the delivery of investment in improving transport access to and from the airport. We can't rely on the M8 as our sole access route any longer. Congestion varies but can only get worse as the economy grows once again. That's why we will always argue vigorously for a new rail connection to help spread the load and we were encouraged to see the Transport Minister welcome proposals for a tram/train link to Glasgow Central Station.

If that's the preferred solution we want to see it delivered as a matter of urgency.

We also welcomed the Chancellor's moves to reduce Air Passenger Duty on air flights. For our members APD is simply a tax on doing business overseas. The Chancellor's move to reduce the extent of APD on some long haul flights was helpful but insufficient. We want to see APD go altogether.

But we can't always get direct flights to every market so we must have access to a reliable hub. Of those travelling to Heathrow four out of 10 travel on overseas and since bmi withdrew from Glasgow we have had unsatisfied demand for the Heathrow connection. We need more connections to Heathrow as soon as possible.

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce

Contextual targeting label: 
Travel

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