Air links concern

GORDON MP Malcolm Bruce has urged the Prime Minister to give an assurance that the future of Aberdeen’s air links will not be threatened as a result of the sale of BMI to the British Airways group.

Mr Bruce, who has held discussions with BAA Aberdeen in Westminster on a range of issues, said that the prospective sale of BMI to IAG - British Airways parent company - means that it is unlikely that BA will in future maintain all existing BMI flights to London, particularly to Heathrow.

The MP warned this could have an impact on competition for Aberdeen passengers wanting to take any on-going international flights, given the terminal restrictions at Heathrow.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions, Mr Bruce said: “British Airways has announced that it has reached an agreement to take over British Midland International. Although this is being challenged under competition rules, what assurances can the Prime Minister give that the landing slots at Heathrow from regional airports such as Aberdeen will be protected if it is allowed to go ahead.”

Mr Cameron recognised the imprtance of regional airport landing slots and agreed to look into the matter on Mr Bruce’s behalf.

In his reply he said: “The Right Honourable Gentleman makes an important point and I am sure that it is important to his constitutents as well.

“I will look into the issue of landing slots - I know how important it is for regional airports - and get back to him.”

The MP and his Westminster colleague Sir Robert Smith, who represents West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, are due to hold discussions soon with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore over the concern regarding Aberdeen’s air links.

Lufthansa revealed in November last year that it planned to sell its British Midland Ltd subsidiary to IAG after failing to turn the business around in three years of ownership.

The announcement sparked concern in the North-east over the impact the prospective sale would have on landing slots at Heathrow.

It was reported the sale would give IAG more than half of all take-off and landing slots, strengthening the group’s hold on one of the world’s most important transport hubs.