Ambitious plans are being drawn up to extend Dundee Airport’s runway in a bid to attract more international flights.
The major works, which would widen the ramp and replace the current terminal building, are being considered as part of the Tay Cities Deal when it is formally launched in detail in February, The Courier can reveal.
Potential investors in the city were told of the plans at a high level meeting in London on Thursday and a local consultation meeting is scheduled to take place next Friday, although the airport’s management said such work is not necessary.
After the meeting in the UK capital, Allan Watt, the city council’s waterfront project director, said: “Both the airport and the rail station are very important for the economic growth of the city.”
It was announced earlier this week that the city’s flagship Amsterdam route will increase to a seven-day service following its success at the previously beleaguered airport.
The move would increase the size of aeroplane which is able to land at the hub, meaning it would be possible to fly to a whole rage of new destinations from the city.
A source close to the city deal plan said: “This is a great opportunity for Dundee.”
There is political will to increase the number of destinations that people can fly to from Dundee, but there are also major benefits to being able to transport international visitors into the city.
As well as tourism, particularly with the forthcoming arrival of the V&A and the proximity of world-famous golf courses in St Andrews and Carnoustie, the ability for business figures and leading academics to arrive within a short drive of wherever they need to go is seen as being particularly appealing.
Senior figures in the UK Government are keen to sign off money for the Tay Cities Deal, which will likely be match funded by the Scottish Government.
It is understood that David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, is enthusiastic about any proposals which will improve connectivity with parts of the country such as Dundee.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “It is for local partners to bring forward proposals and we look forward to seeing ideas for the Tay Cities Deal early next year.
“We know the airport is important to Tayside, that’s why the UK Government is helping to fund air links between Dundee and London and Dundee and Amsterdam.”
Dundee Airport manager Derrick Lang said: “We have been part of the Tay Cities discussions that have taken place and we fully support those working towards building a sustainable, prosperous future for our communities.
“At present there is no requirement to widen or lengthen the runway at Dundee Airport. The existing infrastructure will handle projected passenger numbers for the foreseeable future.”
Prospect of more flights welcomed
Philip Long, director of V&A Dundee, said: “Dundee is emerging as a major new destination for tourism and inward investment, particularly with its great cultural organisations, two leading universities and the forthcoming V&A Dundee.
“We’re delighted to see all new travel links to Dundee in the run up to V&A Dundee opening in 2018.”
Alison Henderson, CEO of Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, explained that a variety of transport links are crucial for business success in the city.
She said: “Anything that will support the range of routes from Dundee airport is a good thing.
“The business community would certainly be keen to see more flights, especially to places like France, Germany, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
“The Amsterdam route is so popular because the price point is affordable, so if this is the case for any new flights then I’m sure people will take advantage of them for both leisure and business.”
A spokesperson for the Tay Cities Deal said that details will be officially confirmed in February.
He explained: “Angus, Dundee, Fife, and Perth and Kinross Councils have been working collaboratively on the contents of the Tay Cities Deal to promote fair economic growth for the region.
“As part of our economic development strategy for the region we anticipate there will be some investment in key infrastructure projects to improve mobility and connectivity.”
“Both the Scottish and UK governments have responded positively to the vision and strategy outlined in the draft bid proposal, and have shown a commitment to work with the local authorities to advance a Tay Cities Deal to deliver the vision.
“The councils will take time to ensure that they are submitting a bid that is thorough and which will have the desired positive effects across the area.
“Details of projects which make up the Tay Cities deal will be confirmed once the work on the submission is completed in February.”
Chris Law MP and Joe FitzPatrick MSP released a joint statement in support of the plans, but said there is much to be done on the specifics of the project.
The statement said: “We are aware that Dundee airport is very much part of the discussion around the Tay Cities Deal.
“Any ideas around the detail of what that might involve are at a very high level and there is a lot more work to be done there regarding the feasibility of what may be possible.
“There is an Airport Consultative Group which meets regularly and we are both involved in these meetings.
“We will continue to support plans to get the best deal possible for Dundee.”