Stuart Patrick

Glasgow Airport finished 2015 with a final flourish of success, announcing a new Air France daily service to Paris. This has been one of its best ever years with passenger numbers increased by over a million and 26 new services launched connecting the West of Scotland directly to places as diverse as Toronto, Bucharest, Munich and Milan.

It has been regularly recognised as one of the fastest growing airports in Europe by trade body ACI Europe, with Q3 2015 seeing a 13.4% increase compared to the same period last year. Amanda McMillan and her team also secured the title Airport of the Year at both the Scottish and UK National Transport Awards.

Money is consistently being spent improving the Airport experience, not least in keeping waiting times at security under 10 minutes.

There are points to be made from all this. To begin with, it tells us that the Glasgow Airport team is doing a first class job in pitching the city as a strong investment destination for airlines like Air France, Canada’s West Jet and Romania’s Blue Air.

Also evidence is now gathering speed that Glasgow is indeed getting a tourism boost from the Commonwealth Games, especially in hotel occupancy rates across the city, and there are clear signs that the number of international visitors arriving at the Airport is growing. The balance of trade on West Jet’s Halifax Nova Scotia flights, for example, has been heavily weighted towards Canadian passengers coming in to Glasgow.

We already know that Glasgow will jointly deliver the inaugural European Sports Championships with Berlin in 2018, and that means we can see how the city is going to ensure the momentum from the Games is not lost.

That steady shift in traffic towards more inbound visits is further strengthening the investment argument for completing a rail connection to the Airport, since it is visitors that are more likely to need the service.

The Chamber has been very pleased to see several recent steps being taken to deliver on that connection, with the allocation of the funds needed to build it from the Glasgow and Clyde Valley City Deal, the announcements of the two technical options for its delivery and the publication by Renfrewshire Council of the contract for completing the outline business case by December 2016.

All good news, and for us it is now a given that the rail connection will happen.

Stuart Patrick is chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce