Aberdeen to go transAtlantic?

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09:00 - 12 October 2005
Aberdeen Airport is in talks to launch its first transatlantic service.

Managing director Andy Flower confirmed yesterday he was in discussions with several airlines, including Continental, for scheduled flights between Aberdeen and Houston, the world's energy capital in Texas.

Mr Flower said Houston was among the most sought-after destinations in a recent survey by Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

He added: "We talk to airlines all the time. Continental is one of a number.

"As the oil price is high, we think there is demand for a Houston service.

"There is, however, a big difference between persuading an airline that demand is there and the actual take-up."

Mr Flower said discussions were at a very preliminary stage and they were nowhere close to any services taking off in the immediate future.

But last night business leaders and tourism experts welcomed the high-level talks and said transatlantic flights to Aberdeen would be a "coup" for the city.

Andrew Martin, director of the Scottish Centre of Tourism at Robert Gordon University, said: "This move could put Aberdeen on the international stage and we have never been there before.

"It would give people from the north-east the opportunity to travel, but it would also bring the high-spending North Americans into the local economy.

"We have a great product to sell in the north-east and this will open up a new destination for North Americans - they can come straight here without having to go through London, Prestwick or Edinburgh."

A spokeswoman for Visit-Scotland Aberdeen said: "Scotland has always been a popular choice for Americans and with flights direct from Houston this would be great news for tourism in Aberdeen and Grampian."

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Geoff Runcie also described news of the negotiations as a "positive story".

He said: "I hope someone has the courage to bring a service on. I am delighted that airlines are talking to the airport about the potential for such a service.

"The crucial component is that people are prepared to support it. This will not be a budget route, rather a premium-priced product.

"The real issue is whether it is commercially viable and sustainable, and that's the challenge for the airlines."

Rita Stephen, head of economic development at Aberdeen City Council, said the possibility of an Aberdeen-Houston air link would be enthusiastically welcomed by a large cross-section of the local business community.

She added: "The council's most recent export survey for the area highlights the US as the top export market for north-east companies, of which an increasing number have a registered office in Houston.

"The management of Aberdeen Airport have worked tirelessly over the past two years to increase destination choice for both business and leisure passengers. Routes have to be sustainable and carriers need to be confident that the demand is there. The council and its partners would be happy to work with the airport and business community to present the case to interested airlines."

Houston was second top in the choice of destinations that the chamber's members wanted from Aberdeen in the survey that was undertaken in 2003. Top was Stansted, the London airport that Aberdeen previously had a direct link to.

Continental played down its involvement when contacted by the Press and Journal.

The airline already operates direct services from Glasgow and Edinburgh to Newark in New Jersey, one of three hubs it has in the US. The others are at Houston and Cleveland.

Mr Flower said there were aircraft available that could fly direct to Houston from Aberdeen and any service would be helped by a 1,100ft extension to the Aberdeen runway which is still being contemplated by airport owners, BAA.

BAA has spent more than a year considering the extension, which would allow larger planes to use the airport and bring a raft of new destinations within the scope of Aberdeen, including Egypt and other North American cities.

But Mr Flower said the multimillion development would require a firm commitment from airlines to offer long-haul flights from Aberdeen.

Confirmation of the discussions for the Houston flights comes six months after Aberdeen councillors allowed the airport to open 24 hours.

Mr Flower said that led to airlines giving more serious consideration to the city.

He also said that Monarch's decision to start a four-flights-a-week service between Aberdeen and Malaga from November 4 was a result of the flexibility of 24-hour opening.

He added: "If Monarch are pleased with the response, they might look to try and do something similar elsewhere."

The budget airline already operates scheduled flights from elsewhere in the UK to Naples, Barcelona, Madrid, Lisbon, Faro, Gibraltar, Almeria, Murcia, Alicante, Menorca, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

Work is meanwhile progressing at the airport to improve the main terminal building. An 8,611sq ft extension to the departure lounge is expected to be completed by January. British Airways is also expected next February or March to more than double the size of its executive lounge.

Mr Flower said the extension would allow more shops and improved catering to be made available airside.

Your Views
So what will it be, 10 flights per night in 2007, or maybe 20, or 50... (and half of them empty planes on "positioning" manoeuvers). Oil tycoons may save a few hours journey time (and pay a few hundred pounds more) but does that justify destroying the quality of life in Dyce?
Bill Harrison, Dyce

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Original post
Profile picture for user RIPConcorde

Member for

15 years 9 months

Posts: 3,124

IAH-ABZ has been talked about for a long time now! A Privatair style operation was the last idea, but somebody didn't like that... Can't remember if it was the pilots at CO or someone else. :confused:

Member for

16 years 6 months

Posts: 1,089

Having recently transited Aberdeen I would not like to fly long-haul from there. I doubt you could get a transatlantic B757 off the runway in it's current state.

I was thinking just that as I was reading the article Matthew.


Member for

16 years 8 months

Posts: 268

Having recently transited Aberdeen I would not like to fly long-haul from there. Chceck-in is cramped, as-is the departure lounge. I doubt you could get a transatlantic B757 off the runway in it's current state, perhaps with that 1,100ft extension.

I also flew into Aberdeen quite recently and was quite surprised how cramped it seemed.