26 January 2011

Ann McKechin (Glasgow North, Labour): Good transport links to other parts of the UK are vital for the Scottish economy. As the Secretary of State is aware, I wrote to him and to the Secretary of State for Transport on Monday last week to express my concerns about reports that bmi is about to axe its Glasgow-Heathrow service, which will put more than 100 jobs at risk. To date, I have had no reply from either him or his colleague. Will he inform the House today what steps he and his Government are taking to persuade both bmi and BAA to save that vital transport connection?

 Michael Moore (Scottish Secretary, Liberal Democrats): I recognise the hon. Lady’s concerns, which are shared by people not just in Glasgow, but across Scotland. I have spoken to senior managers both at bmi and BAA, and it is clear that they have some very difficult contractual arrangements as a result of the review of landing charges at Heathrow. I am keen that they recognise—I impressed this upon them—the importance of those links to Glasgow and to Scotland.

 Ann McKechin: I am grateful for the Secretary of State’s response, but given that there is increasing evidence that domestic air links between Scotland’s major airports and the UK’s largest airport might be substantially diminished, and the inevitable worries that increased fares will result if there is only one remaining carrier, will he undertake today to make contact with the EU, which is responsible for regulation, and ask it to consider possible changes better to protect strategically important domestic air links, and to ensure better competitive practices to protect Scotland’s economy and our customers?

 Michael Moore: If I may be forgiven, I am not sure that I remember the previous Labour Government doing that. I do not want us to lose sight of the fact that Glasgow, Edinburgh and other major Scottish cities have a range of links to different London airports—substantial links that we want to be enhanced and to grow. The issue that the hon. Lady raises is obviously one of concern, and the Government will continue to discuss it with the parties involved.

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