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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Business news

Dundee Airport losses approach £1m

October 26 2017

Operating losses at Dundee Airport approached £1m last year, according to new accounts filed at Companies House. In the year to March 31, the airport recorded a turnover of £2.9 million but had operating costs of £3.5m and administrative expenses of £369,000. The airport is one of 11 airports operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited (HIAL) which is wholly owned by Scottish Ministers and subsidised by the Government. In the last financial year, HIAL recorded revenues of £22m, an increase of 6.9% from 2016. It recorded a pre-tax loss of £985,000. Passengers at its 11 airports were 1,658,423, an increase of 15%. Dundee recorded the greatest increase in passengers out of the HIAL airports as a new route to Amsterdam was introduced last May. Dundee Airport had 38,700 passengers, compared to 25,576 in 2016. Flybe withdrew the Amsterdam service in December due to concerns over Dundee’s radar coverage. HIAL received £20.1m in Government revenue during the year. A further £16m was spent on upgrading facilities. rmclaren@thecourier.co.uk


Dundee Airport braced for strike action over pay dispute

February 7 2012

Workers at Dundee Airport could march out on strike as early as next month over a long-running pay dispute. That is the warning from the trade union Prospect, which represents more than 300 staff at Highlands & Islands Airports Limited (HIAL). The union had intended to ballot its 33 members at Dundee Airport on Monday but a last-minute legal challenge was made by HIAL, forcing the postponement of the vote. The ballot is now expected to be held in the next few days. If approved, it will see firefighters, air traffic controllers, engineers, fuel staff and check-in personnel walk out en masse for a day of industrial action. Staff are unhappy that they are paid up to £10,000 less than their counterparts at the other 10 airports run by HIAL. This is due to the airport being the only one in the group wholly owned by Scottish ministers and as such is governed under the Public Sector Pay Policy, thus limiting salary-raising powers. Bosses at HIAL say negotiations with Prospect have failed to reach a solution and it looks increasingly likely that the strike will go ahead. HIAL managing director Inglis Lyon said there are ''few options'' open to the company, adding: ''We are bonded by the Scottish Government's pay policy. A new offer was put before staff who have since rejected it and I understand that a ballot is planned.'' If the ballot is successful union members will take one-day strike action followed by an overtime ban which would affect late-running aircraft from London City airport and other flights due to the non-availability of firefighting crews and air traffic staff. Prospect national secretary Alan Denney called for a ''roadmap of harmonisation'' bringing members' pay in line with other HIAL airports. Dundee Airport, he added, would be obliged to close after normal rostered hours if overtime was not worked. The airport may also find itself short-staffed on other days if employees are absent on leave or at training courses. ''Members at Dundee have a simple objective: fair treatment,'' Mr Denney said.


Transport Minister warns Dundee Airport still faces major challenges after funding boost

June 10 2014

The Scottish Transport Minister has said that Dundee Airport still faces a challenge after multi-million-pound funding guaranteeing its future for two years was approved. Councillors agreed the public service obligation (PSO) between Westminster and Dundee City Council, which guarantees £2.85 million to keep the Dundee to London air route open for two years. Transport Minister Keith Brown, while welcoming the deal, said it was only part of securing the long-term future of the airport. He said: “The announcement of the PSO on the Dundee-Stansted route is a significant and welcome development for Dundee Airport. “As we outlined in the Dundee Airport Scoping Study, published last December, securing the future of this crucial air link was one of our top priorities. “Transport Scotland worked in partnership with Dundee City Council and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited to keep the route going in the short term and help the council build its PSO case. “With the council agreeing the PSO last night, Dundee Airport can now start looking forward. “It faces a challenge in the increasingly competitive aviation market and while this route will provide a platform for growth, it’s important we continue looking at all the available options to encourage more passengers and businesses to use it. “The scoping study also highlighted a number of commercial opportunities like engaging with companies in the offshore renewables sector which could give Dundee Airport a unique place in Scotland’s aviation industry. “These are areas that could be developed to attract new business. “The establishment of the PSO is the first step for Dundee Airport, and the Scottish Government remains committed to working with Highlands and Islands Airport Limited, Dundee City Council and other stakeholders to secure its future,” he added. SNP administration leader Ken Guild has hailed the deal as “great news for Dundee”.

Readers' letters

April 24: Coming to the defence of overworked, under-resourced Dundee Airport staff

April 24 2012

Today's letters to The Courier. Sir, - As a regular user of Dundee Airport I feel dutybound to reply to Mr Shaw's letter in Friday's Courier regarding industrial action. Dundee has a little gem of an airport right on its doorstep but I have always felt that it has been under-resourced and supported over the years. In recent years I can not recall any significant advertisement campaigns or attempts to bring new flights into the city. Flights from Dundee to London are three times the price of flights from Edinburgh. This is undoubtedly a failing on behalf of Highlands and Islands senior management and nothing whatsoever to do with rank-and-file workers at the airport. As for the airport being overstaffed, if anything I believe it is severely understaffed. Having recently been talking to a charming gentleman who assisted me off my flight I was shocked to discover that he was in fact an airport firefighter and that his duties also included numerous other tasks such as baggage handling, aircraft refuelling and deicing. Having asked around it appears that this jack-of-all-trades firefighter is an anomaly that appears to exist only at Dundee. Having read that staff at other Highlands and Islands airports are being paid upwards of £10,000 per year more than staff at Dundee it is hardly surprising that staff at Dundee are being forced into industrial action. I firmly believe that inequality should be challenged whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head. I wish all the hard-working Dundee staff every success in their fight for fair treatment. Angus Fordyce.Camphill Road,Broughty Ferry. People don't care about breaking law Sir, - I was very surprised by the comments made by Labour MSP John Park about the result of average speed camera use on the M90. He finds ''an extraordinary number of people who are being caught by them''. It's really quite simple, John an extraordinary number of people don't care about speed limits and are willing to break the law, so they are fined. Does he believe this is unjustified and does he approve of his constituents breaking the law? Gavin Drummond.33 Edenbank Road,Cupar. Prediction of turnout hitting a record low Sir, - Helen Brown's article in Friday's Courier was a splendid analysis of the present appalling political situation in Britain ('So-called safe seats would be wrong to ignore this 'one-off''). Might I add two points? Firstly, we have too many politicians and their attendant overpaid beaurocrats. This takes a lot of money out of the economy which should be better used by reducing taxes and growing manufacturing industries. More importantly, the last 30 years have seen a tremendous growth of the power of the party leaders, leaving the indians with little option but to add to the warpaint of their chiefs. I am sure that Helen would agree with the obvious prediction that the forthcoming local elections will see an appalling if not record low turnout. The politicians have successfully switched very many of us off. Robert Lightband.Clepington Court,Dundee. No thanks to destruction of our heritage Sir, - I must disagree with Stan Blackly of Friends Of The Earth Scotland in his interpretation of public opinion (Saturday, April 21). There is little doubt that many people support some of our power being produced by renewables, but this does not equate with support for windfarms. If his company really wishes to protect the earth, how in the world can they be in favour of digging huge holes in our mountains, filling them with concrete and then topping them with massive industrial turbines? How can they be in favour of building great roads up the mountain sides to reach these? How can they approve of the removal of peat bogs and felling of trees to accommodate them peat bogs and trees being the earth's natural method of carbon capture? If they fear global warming how then do they account for the extra CO2 that the back-up conventional power stations will emit when trying to level out the intermittent electricity generation created by these same wind turbines? These are issues that many in the green movement do not wish to confront. Neither is it a good argument to call Donald Trump an ''ill-informed doom-monger'' when he is a public figure attempting to point out to our ill-informed government the error of their ways. I would suggest that Holyrood should be looking positively at making good use of the latest technology to use the reserves of shale gas recently revealed, which will provide a much cheaper source of electricity, as proven recently in America. By all means let us push ahead with more water power, geothermal generation and some biomass, but as for further destruction of our beautiful mountain heritage no thank you. Ann Cowan.The Old Inn,Fowlis Wester,Crieff. Easy way to avoid charges Sir, - Those who believe that the only reason councils put up speed trap cameras is to create extra revenue have the answer to their worries in their own hands just stop speeding. That will immediately deprive the council of that revenue. Alternatively, keep speeding, and maybe as a result our council tax bill will come down. Mona Clark.9 Millbay Terrace,Dundee Get involved: to have your say on these or any other topics, email your letter to letters@thecourier.co.uk or send to Letters Editor, The Courier, 80 Kingsway East, Dundee DD4 8SL. Letters should be accompanied by an address and a daytime telephone number.


Dundee Airport closed by industrial action

April 8 2015

Security staff at Dundee Airport began a 48-hour walkout, forcing it to close its doors. Flybe Dundee to London Stansted flights will not resume until the industrial action ends at noon on Thursday. Private aviation and the flight school, as well as air traffic control and emergency services remain operational. Security staff at Highlands and Islands Airports Limited premises across Scotland have gone on strike over pay and conditions. On Tuesday, 120 AMSL staff walked out. Colin Browne of the Prospect union said 14 security staff at Dundee have walked out. He said: “We don’t want to be on strike, we’re losing pay and especially in this climate that can be difficult to sustain. “We want Dundee to be busy, we want the airport to succeed and for a lot of us it took some soul searching to come to the decision to take strike action.”


Islands airports now busier than Dundee

September 26 2014

More passengers travelled through tiny island airports than Dundee, shocking new figures have revealed. The number of people flying from the city’s Riverside facility has almost halved in the last 12 months following a significant reduction in services, including the end of regular flights linking Dundee to Belfast and Birmingham. An annual report by Highlands and Islands Airports Limited showed passenger numbers plummeted from 48,312 in 2012/13 to 26,774 last year. In comparison Islay, which has a population of just 3,228, increased its annual traffic by 2% to 27,297 passengers. Jenny Marra, Labour MSP for North East Scotland, attributed the drop to the “higher prices” of CityJet, which previously operated the route between Dundee and London. This has since been taken over by Loganair’s FlyBe franchise and it launched a new service at the end of March, just as the report was being published. Ms Marra said: “The figures are reflective of the old carrier as the prices were much higher, so there was some uncertainty. “Securing a new carrier and the future of the connection has been good news for the city and the economy.” For our full report, see Friday’s Courier or try our digital edition.


Economist says Amsterdam link will not help Dundee Airport long term

November 28 2015

Direct flights to Amsterdam will do little to secure Dundee Airport’s future and it should close its commercial operation so it is no longer a burden on the state, according to a leading economist. The Tayside airport is set to run daily flights to the Dutch capital after the UK Government announced £1.2m of subsidies for the route, which is set to be operated by FlyBe. The move has been celebrated by many for opening Dundee to the world by directly linking it with one of Europe’s busiest airports. But Scottish economist Tony Mackay and taxpayers’ rights activists said propping up the airport’s commercial operation with public funds is a “waste of money”. Mr Mackay said the state subsidies the airport receives, which accounted for £2.6 million last year alone, could be channelled into the regeneration of the Waterfront and other development projects in the city instead. He said: “I think it’s a waste of money and it’s not a good use of public funds. “The Dundee-Amsterdam route is only going ahead because of subsidies so all this is doing is adding to the state help it gets. I don’t think it will really help the airport in the long run. “I believe that there could be a future for Dundee as a small, private airport but not as a public airport dependent on large subsidies from the taxpayer.” He said closure would “obviously have an adverse impact on the Dundee economy”, but said the Scottish Government could transfer the subsidy to support development projects in the city. His comments were echoed Eben Wilson from TaxpayerScotland. He bemoaned the use of subsidies and said it would be better if the Government “stopped spending so much, slashed taxes and re-vitalised Dundee’s capacity to conquer the world through its creative industriousness”. “Scotland cannot go on supporting everything that moves with more and more subsidies,” he added. But there is widespread backing for supporting Dundee Airport’s commercial ventures with state cash to help it meet the growing demands from business and tourism in Tayside. Dundee city councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “As much as it would allow Dundonians to go around world, it will enable people to come here. The V&A museum will bring 500,000 people in the first year and they have got to get here somehow.” Gordon Fleming, the former head of airport policy at Dundee City Council, said it is important to have a vision for the future. “I think we will have to be very patient in trying to re-grow scheduled services, but I also think we should take a long term view, especially with things like the V&A yet to come ‘online’,” he said. Inglis Lyon, the managing director of Highlands and Islands Airports Limited, which owns Dundee Airport, said the route to Amsterdam would be “transformational in terms of business and leisure connectivity, particularly at a time when Dundee is undergoing significant investment”. A spokesman for the airport admitted their dependence on subsidies is “unlikely to change for the forseeable future”.HIAL 'absolutely focused' on new routesHIAL say they are “focused” on increasing the number of scheduled routes using Dundee. The airport runs a subsidised service to London Stansted and secured Government cash for a link to Amsterdam. HIAL has dismissed suggestions that HIAL is not doing enough to promote the airport and encourage new routes. A HIAL spokesman said Dundee is an “integral part” of the company and is the only airport in its portfolio with a full-time business development manager. He said they “remain absolutely focused on growing Dundee’s scheduled network” and “continue to talk to other operators about the city’s business and tourism potential”. The number of passengers at Dundee Airport fell from 26,774 in 2013-14 to 22,865 the following year. It is dwarfed by the latest passenger figure for Inverness of 657,661, which last month won a route to London Heathrow. However, Dundee has the largest number of airport movements 37,153 last year in the HIAL group. That is driven by the airport being a “popular magnet” for private charter flights and golf tourism, as well as hosting a centre of excellence for pilot training.


New Dundee-London flight route is up, up and away

March 31 2014

TV personality Lorraine Kelly and The Beano’s Dennis the Menace joined passengers as the new Loganair service between Dundee and London Stansted Airport got off to a flying start. Lorraine, who lives in Broughty Ferry, and Dennis joined Loganair’s chief operating officer Phil Preston and other passengers on Sunday’s inaugural flight bound for Stansted. Announced in January of this year, the new service will now operate twice daily on weekdays with one return journey every Sunday. The new route has been introduced as a replacement for Dundee Airport’s previous London City service and flight times have been designed to appeal to the business and leisure markets of both destinations. The Dornier 328 aircraft used on the route promotes six of the city’s famous landmarks The Tay Bridge, Cox’s Stack, St Mary’s Tower, Baxter Park Pavilion, HMS Discovery and V&A Museum. Lorraine Kelly said: “The London Stansted service is great news for Dundee. Business people will probably use the service the most, but I’m sure there will be plenty of long weekends planned in the next few months by Dundonians keen to experience all that London has to offer.”Courier reporter Andrew Argo was on board Monday's first business flight. See his review of the service in Tuesday's CourierMr Preston added: “The commencement of the service is another milestone for Loganair as it will be the first time the airline has operated to and from London Stansted one of the UK’s busiest international transport hubs. “Make no mistake, Dundee is a city on the up and we hope this new service will encourage many visitors to discover this for themselves.” Dundee Airport manager Derrick Lang said: “This is an important new route for Dundee and offers an affordable and convenient service to one of the UK’s biggest and best connected airports.” Transport minister Keith Brown said: “The launch of this interim service between Dundee and London is an important stepping stone for the future of Dundee Airport.” Dundee City Council administration leader Ken Guild said: “The council has been working closely with its partners in Transport Scotland, Highland and Islands Airports and Loganair to help ensure this continuity of service between Dundee and London. “We are obviously keen to find a longer term service to connect Dundee and London and the council is in the process of attracting an operator under a public service obligation.” Ticket prices on the Dundee service cost from £74.99 including taxes.


Dundee harbour turbines challenge

March 31 2010

The company behind plans to build a pair of wind turbines at Dundee harbour is being challenged to confirm it will not affect aircraft or radar at the city's airport. Forth Energy has chosen sites at Stannergate for the giant machines, the blade tips of which would be 400 feet high. Residents have already voiced concerns about having the view from the homes spoiled, but one has raised questions about the wider impact of the development. Norman McLean, of Primrose Bank, said, "As a local resident who witnesses the London City flights approaching Dundee, it appears to me that the proposed turbines would be directly on the flight path to the airport.False readings"It is also a well-known fact that wind turbines can cause false readings on radar systems, so locating these structures on the banks of the Tay could potentially have catastrophic consequences for air traffic using Dundee airport and the nearby RAF base at Leuchars. "I also have concerns about how residents in the Stannergate/ Craigiebank area of the city will be able to receive their television signals from the Tay Bridge television transmitter, as these turbines will be placed directly in the line of sight of the transmitter." An advice note has been published by the Airports Operators Association and the General Aviation Awareness Council on safeguarding airports.Potential effectsIt states that, depending on their size, turbines as much as 15km from an airfield can interfere with the blocks of protected airspace, called obstacle limitation surfaces, that surround them and can even cause flight routes to be changed. It adds, "Wind turbines may also interfere with an aerodrome's radar and other aids to air navigation." One effect is called cluttering, and involves buildings, flocks of birds and even weather causing false signals on a radar screen. The note states that filtering equipment can be used to prevent it. However, it adds, "An effective means of filtering returns from rotating turbine blades has not yet been developed." Wind turbine developers are advised they should check with the relevant authorities to see if what they are proposing is likely to have a negative impact on the safety or operations of an airport. The Civil Aviation Authority, the national traffic control service NATS, the Ministry of Defence and the owners of the affected airport which in Dundee's case would be Highland and Islands Airports Ltd are on the list of consultees. The CAA's policy on wind turbines states, "The physical characteristics of wind turbines coupled with the size and siting of the developments can result in effects that can have an impact on aviation.National interest"Both wind energy and aviation are important to UK national interests and both industry sectors have legitimate interests that must be balanced carefully. "As such, the aviation community must engage positively in the process of developing solutions to potential conflicts of interest between wind energy and aviation operations." Attempts to contact Forth Energy for comment were unsuccessful.