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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...


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.

Perth & Kinross

Perth Airport can have bright future with right support, says report

February 24 2018

Perth Airport has the potential to inject more than £100 million into the local economy over the next two decades, a new study has revealed. Jointly commissioned by the Morris Leslie Group and Perth and Kinross Council’s investment arm Invest in Perth, it sets out a range of alternative futures for the airport. Consultants Ekos prepared the 40-page report in anticipation of the forthcoming £1.84bn Tay Cities Deal and the projected £113m Cross Tay Link Road. The proposed 6km Perth bypass will connect the A9 to the A94 close to the airport. Due for completion in 2023 the new road and new Tay crossing will allow traffic to bypass Perth’s Bridgend district by connecting north of the city, opening up new economic opportunities for the area which are explored in the report. Joyce Leslie, a director of the family-owned Morris Leslie Group, said: “This new study considers all options for the future, including our preferred course of developing the site to meet new opportunities that arise. "The Ekos report clarifies the increasingly high maintenance costs for which the airport will be liable, which means a new business model is needed if we are to avoid managed decline. That is not the future we envisage for Perth Airport." The airport's owners have submitted comments to the local development plan asking that the airport’s restrictive "employment safeguarding" zoning be removed to allow for a mix of uses, including housing. The company believes that incorporating 230 residential units over the next 20 years would allow more flexibility in finding a sustainable future for the airport. Perth Airport covers a 45-acre site outside Scone and currently supports 160 jobs. Its flight operations are managed by ACS, and it is home to the Scottish Aero Club, Alba Airsports, and Scotland's only charity air ambulance. The adjacent buildings, many of which date back to the airport’s Second World War origins, are currently in residential, hospitality and industrial uses, including business incubators, generating an annual £5.9m to the local economy.


Minister leading efforts to have ‘outstanding’ coastal route beside Dundee Airport opened to public

December 12 2013

A Dundee church is leading the campaign for some of the city’s most spectacular views to be opened to the public. The city council is blocking the plan for a walkway from the rail bridge to Invergowrie, but the airport operators are prepared to talk about the idea. Dundee West minister Andrew Greaves feels people should be able to stroll along a route that looks over the beauty of Invergowrie Bay and up the Tay to the Perthshire hills. To the south it offers a vista over to Fife and to the east a panorama of Dundee’s changing waterfront. People are able to take the route westwards for a few hundred yards, but only as far as a padlocked gate at the end of a rutted roadway. On the other side is Dundee Airport although a gravel track winds along the shoreline with a fence on one side and the river wall on the other. “The land for the path is basically set out and it is such a lovely setting,” said Mr Greaves. “My kirk session has supported me in this call for a public path to be set out along the south edge of the airport precincts and the council’s nature park to end at Invergowrie. “There is a secure fence round three sides of the airport to ensure security isn’t compromised, so why can’t there be one on the fourth side? “Such a pathway might encroach on the nature reserve but surely this can be managed. People would benefit from such access through activity and an enhanced appreciation of the outstanding setting which is Dundee.” West End councillor Fraser Macpherson said: “There are clearly issues that would have to be raised with the airport management in relation to security and the nature park about encroaching on bird nesting areas, but I would think that these are not insurmountable. “I think Rev Greaves proposal is eminently sensible and deserves further investigation.” A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: “Unfortunately security and safety issues involved at Dundee Airport create a clear obstacle to this idea. The council could not support anything that compromises the airport’s operations.” But a spokesman for Highland and Islands Airports said: “We would certainly be happy to discuss these proposals with the minister to see if we can assist his plans to provide a coastal pathway, providing it does not impact on airport operations or compromise safeguarding regulations.”

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.


Threat to Dundee Airport as London flights axed

December 23 2013

Dundee’s troubled airport has been plunged into crisis with the imminent announcement that its only scheduled service is to be axed. Airline CityJet’s daily flights to London will be grounded at the end of March because of low passenger numbers and little prospect of an improvement in the foreseeable future. Efforts are being made to find a new airline to take over the route, but the low level of customer support for the existing service may not make that task easy. With the Government announcing earlier this month that maintaining the London link was vital to the airport’s future, the ending of the service places a big question mark over the Riverside site. Closure would be a severe blow to Dundee’s economic regeneration and a major setback to projects like the £1 billion waterfront redevelopment that need good transport connections with bigger cities. CityJet have said they were not commenting “at this time” that the Dundee-London route is to be grounded after March 29 2014, but operators Highland and Islands Airports had heard the grim news. For more on this story see The Courier or try our digital edition.


Plane’s take-off from Dundee Airport halted by blaze

March 22 2014

A plane caught fire at Dundee Airport just before take-off. Smoke started filling the cockpit of the Tayside Aviation Grob aircraft at 10.20am on Friday as it taxied towards the runway. The two people inside the plane, used for training, escaped unhurt before the blaze was put out by the airport’s own firefighters. Five fire engines were also sent by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service before they were stood down within 10 minutes. Engineers were later called in by Tayside Aviation to investigate the cause of the fire which had started in an engine filter. A spokesman for Dundee Airport operator Highlands and Islands Airports said: “The plane was taxiing for take-off and some smoke was noticed in the engine area and in the cockpit. “The crew self-evacuated the aircraft and the airport fire service were called to the scene that’s standard procedure. “The aircraft has now been towed back to the engineering site for further investigation,” he said.

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


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.

Business news

HIAL urged to make the case for Dundee Airport

August 8 2013

The publicly-funded company behind Dundee Airport has been urged to make the case for the city after its submission to a major inquiry on air links instead focused on business benefits in Inverness and the Highlands. Dundee and Angus Chamber chief Sandra Burke said the Highlands and Islands Airports (HIAL) response to the Airports Commission made scant mention of Dundee, and warned that the city needed transport infrastructure if it was to reap the benefits of waterfront and prospective renewable developments. Her warning echoed that of Guggenheim effect expert Beatriz Plaza, who stressed that connectivity was crucial to the success of the city’s V&A at Dundee project when she visited the city earlier in the summer. HIAL used its response to the UK Government commission, which is examining the prospects for airport expansion in the south-east of England, to warn on the vulnerability of regional facilities. It says the loss of a service or route can have “serious implications for the local economy, damaging the region’s employment, investment and tourism potential” and focuses on the Highland and Islands area in which 10 of its 11 facilities are located. The report highlights Inverness and the Highland capital’s connection to the wider world via a link with Amsterdam Schipol, and hails the impact of air links in its “growth as a business and commercial” centre. Flights connecting Dundee to Belfast and Birmingham were axed by operator Loganair late last year in the face of declining passenger numbers. HIAL has since insisted it is doing all it can to attract new business, but warned that it faces challenges in the present economic market. Ms Burke said the Dundee and Angus Chamber was “very supportive” of the city’s airport, and would do whatever it could to help its development. But she warned that connections between Dundee and a major international hub were critical to the city’s aspirations for a growing tourist economy and as a base for the renewables industry. “We want the case to be made for better connectivity to Dundee,” Ms Burke said of the HIAL submission. “I would have liked to have seen HIAL make more mention of the criticality of Dundee Airport, particularly because the city needs to be ready for the impact of the regeneration of our waterfront and the opening of the V&A. “Our position is that we think Dundee Airport is absolutely vital, and that it is vital we maintain services and, ideally, expand them.” Dundee City Council has pledged to support the Riverside Drive facility as part of a new tourism strategy adopted in the spring. City fathers hope to aid the introduction of new services by highlighting opportunities during regular meetings with operators, and promoting the airport as an important part of the city’s proposition as an operations and maintenance base for the renewables sector. In June, Dr Plaza told Dundee’s second economic summit that “something had to be done” about the city’s transport links. The Bilbao-based academic who has written extensively on the power of museums as tools for urban regeneration said connections were a crucial factor for the £45m V&A at Dundee project. The HIAL submission’s publication came as the chairman of the Government-appointed commission revealed summaries of all the responses received during the first phase of its examination of airport expansion in the south east of the UK. His commission said the need to consider the UK’s connectivity as a whole was one of several strong recurring themes during the consultation.