Heathrow flight plea for Glasgow

GLASGOW must have more flights to Heathrow in order to keep businesses in the city thriving.

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Virgin Atlantic did not take up the option of Glasgow flights
Virgin Atlantic did not take up the option of Glasgow flights

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chambers of Commerce, said links with the London airport must be improved following BMI's withdrawal of the service last year.

His comments came as Virgin Atlantic announced it will take over the London Heathrow short-haul remedy slots flying from Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

It had been hoped Virgin would also bid for the route from Glasgow to the London airport.

Sir Richard Branson's airline was offered the Glasgow route by the European Commission following International Airline Group's takeover of BMI.

But because BMI pulled out of Glasgow Airport in March last year, before the takeover, it was not covered by European Commission legislation.

Mr Patrick said he was "frustrated" by Virgin's decision not to run extra flights from Glasgow to Heathrow.

He said: "Glasgow would have been included in the European Commission's protection if BMI hadn't withdrawn before the IAG takeover.

"Glasgow has clearly lost out to timing as we are clearly not going to see any action taken by the EU Commission or by Virgin.

"The Scottish Government should be looking at more ways to get our business from Glasgow overseas. We rely on Heathrow as a hub to take our business to other countries and without sufficient flights to the London airport we will miss out."

Transport Minister Keith Brown welcomed the move but repeated calls for Scotland to be given control over Air Passenger Duty in order to attract more international flights to the country's airports.

Mr Brown said: "We welcome this announcement and look forward to a long and productive relationship with Virgin Atlantic.

"However, we do remain concerned about the absence of competition on the Glasgow to Heathrow service as a consequence of BMI's withdrawal of the service last year."

catriona.stewart@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

Travel

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