WHEN it comes to our global connectivity, the ability of Aberdeen International Airport to attract and retain routes is paramount.

We’ve heard some challenging news on this over the preceding months, with two key London routes withdrawn by operators. The airport team are working incredibly hard to ensure that these routes are replaced with attractive alternatives, and that further routes are created for both business and leisure users. A clear example being the new Aberdeen to London Southend route, operated by Loganair and starting this month, which will see three new flights a day to the capital.

Current circumstances highlight that the aviation market continues to be ruthlessly competitive and, in this context, Scotland’s respective governments need to take the right steps to encourage route development.

HeraldScotland:

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At our latest roundtable with Derek Mackay MSP, cabinet secretary for finance at the Scottish Government, our focus was on upping the pace of reform across key areas for firms in the North-east, whether that was business rates or connectivity.

On aviation, Air Passenger Duty (APD) has directly impacted the North-east’s connectivity, with the tax referenced as a key factor in the closure of the Gatwick and London City routes from Aberdeen International Airport. Aberdeen’s airport also faces the unique circumstances of competing with Inverness Airport on key routes, which is exempt from the tax under current arrangements. Research has shown that scrapping APD would both generate a range of new routes and would make current routes more viable.

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The Scottish Government’s recent decision was made without consultation and despite consistent promises to business and will be seen as backwards step by those working to improve our connectivity and build our tourism sector in the North-east.

If we want the Aberdeen City Region to be an exporting hub for energy expertise, to diversify its economy into new growth sectors, to meet its aim of generating £1bn in annual visitor spend by 2023 and be at the forefront of the transition to clean energy, it’s absolutely vital that we have a strong regional airport to deliver the connectivity our businesses and trading partners expect.

Russell Borthwick is chief executive of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce.