In the past decade Heathrow has nearly halved the number of services every week to Scotland from 50 to 26.
This terminal decline has been interrupted by the announcement that Inverness will once again be connected to the UK’s busiest airport after years of absence.
It was an opportune move by Heathrow’s owners, anxious to win the support of Scottish MPs ahead of any potential House of Commons vote on a third runway. But it has a lot of work to do if it is to reverse the scepticism regarding its commitment to Scotland.
Regional destinations have fallen at Heathrow from 18 in 1990 to just seven now. Gatwick, on the other hand, fares slightly better with 11 UK destinations the same as in 1990.
Both airports promise more domestic flights if given the go-ahead to expand.
The Scottish Government has called for guarantees to be attached to new capacity which secure minimum levels of travel between Scotland and London. I would hope this includes the reopening of routes such as those to Dundee.
The drop in domestic routes has largely been down to airlines, faced with limited London airport space, favouring more lucrative international destinations.
The Scottish Government’s reduction of Air Passenger Duty will be a boost but Westminster must show political will either to ring-fence or regulate, whatever is possible, to protect domestic slots as the French have done.
The Tory Government’s political priority towards Scotland on the issue has been wanting, yet it promotes expansion of airport capacity as a national infrastructure project while its MPs try to block Scottish MPs voting on it.
This sentiment towards Scotland was reinforced on a London to Aberdeen flight this week when, reading the New Statesman, I came across a Heathrow campaign advert. It showed a map of its connections across Britain claiming “The Benefits Heathrow Brings, Near and Far” despite failing to feature anything north of Glasgow.
The third runway decision could have a major effect for the better on air connections, not just for Scotland but Wales, Northern Ireland and the English regions.
It should not be treated as an afterthought.