The central belt is poised to benefit from Heathrow expansion at the expense of smaller airports like Dundee, an economist has warned.
The Scottish Government has backed a third runway at Heathrow saying it will bring thousands of new jobs and more flights north of the border.
Ministers say airports across Scotland can tap into a £10m fund promised by the west London hub for domestic services.
But Scottish economist Tony Mackay, from Mackay Solutions, believes it will be Edinburgh and Glasgow, rather than regional airports, that will be Scotland’s winners from Heathrow expansion.
“My view is that it is beneficial to Scottish airports like Edinburgh and Glasgow, but probably at the expense of smaller regional airports,” he told The Courier.
“It has always been operators like British Airways and Easyjet that get the slots for Heathrow.
“When those new slots open up at Heathrow, it will be those airlines that get them and unfortunately airlines like Flybe and Loganair will miss out.”
He said that is because BA and Easyjet have deeper pockets and can book Scots passengers onto their more lucrative international flights at Heathrow.
However, Joe FitzPatrick, the Dundee West MSP, said regional airports are well-placed to benefit, with Heathrow committing to a £10m route development fund to help support new domestic routes.
“As with the Amsterdam route I would hope that this fund could be used to the benefit of the city and our aims of making it as easy as possible for business and leisure customers to access Dundee by air,” he said.
The airline Flybe, which connects Dundee with London Stansted, said last week it is “heartened” by the Heathrow plan and is looking at introducing flights between Heathrow and the City of Discovery if expansion goes ahead.
Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, which operates 11 regional airports including Dundee, also backed a third runway at Heathrow.
Managing director Inglis Lyon believes Heathrow is vital “for the international connections it offers to our regional airports”.
“A third runway offers more slots which would enable a second daily flight to and from Inverness Airport and would also open up the possibility of a direct flight from Dundee,” he said.
Economy secretary Keith Brown called on the UK Government on Monday to follow Scotland’s lead in backing the third runway.
Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed last week that the UK Government would “shortly announce” which airport expansion project will get the go ahead. The rival bid is from Gatwick.
The Riverside airport launched a service to Amsterdam earlier this year, which was later extended to seven days a week.
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