Stornoway Airport is central to the UK Government vision of how transport links will develop in Scotland over the next 30 years.
That’s the view of UK Government Aviation Minister Liz Sugg who has been visiting a series of Scottish airports.
Her aim was to discuss how Scotland may benefit from the proposals for Heathrow Airport expansion and how the UK Government can support the aviation industry to develop Scottish enterprise.
On Tuesday (August 14th) the Minister visited Stornoway to tour the airport facilities and met HM Coastguard and airport fire, search and rescue crews to learn about their critical role in the Western Isles.
Following a visit to Lewis extending over two days and meetings with business leaders from Lewis and Harris, Aviation Minister Liz Sugg said: “The Western Isles community relies on good transport links and Stornoway airport plays a hugely important role in providing essential UK and global connections. “We expect expansion at Heathrow to bring benefits to Scotland with increased tourism and more opportunities for Scottish businesses.
“And through our aviation strategy the UK Government will identify ways to encourage the development of regional airports.”
Stornoway airport handled 132,000 passengers last year, and Visit Outer Hebrides reports that tourism generates £65m in economic value for the islands, sustains around 1000 jobs and is one of the key growth sectors.
Scotland can expect to benefit from an extra 100 flights a week to and from Heathrow following the proposed expansion and the additional capacity is expected to encourage competition between airlines, bringing down prices for Scottish passengers.
More flights from Scottish airports will allow Stornoway to benefit from better connections to an expanded Heathrow via links with Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness airports.
And with freight capacity almost doubled at Heathrow, Scottish businesses have more opportunities to export their products to new markets across the world.
Duncan Smith, Stornoway Airport Manager for Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd, said: “We really enjoyed the visit and it was excellent that the Minister made the effort to come to Stornoway Airport and it was much appreciated by us all.
“We always strive to provide the best possible customer service for our local community within our lifeline service provision and also as part of HIAL, which has the Company vision to become the best regional Airport group in the world.”
Meeting stakeholders during her visit to Scotland, the Minister sought views on the UK Government’s aviation strategy to understand ways to support businesses and passengers across Scotland.
The strategy will take a fresh look at the aviation sector up to 2050 to ensure it delivers for consumers and enables the UK to continue competing on a global stage.
As part of her visit the Minister also toured a £20 million terminal refurbishment at Aberdeen airport designed to improve passenger experience, and met airline crew at Loganair’s headquarters in Glasgow. While in Stornoway she also visited Museum nan Eilean, below.