Sunday, 2 February 2003

The Central Airport saga

I look forward to reading the David Hume Institute Central Scotland Airport study. Media reports have highlighted job losses if Glasgow and Edinburgh airports were to close and be replaced by a new airport between the two cities. Newspapers have claimed that total airport employment would fall from 7,000 to 3,000. As usual, the journalists don't seem to have heard of the economist Frederic Bastiat who always asked us to look at "the unseen as well as the seen". The question on employment should be: "How many jobs would Scotland gain by having better air services compared with the net loss of airport jobs?"

Much has been made of the potential creation of a Scottish "hub" airport. But hubs are no longer so attractive; indeed the problems faced by United and American have been linked to their hub and spoke system, one that has not been adopted by the hugely successful Southwest Airlines. What Scotland actually needs are simply more direct services to Europe and North America, not a "hub" airport. The solution is to expand Edinburgh airport:

Peter Burt said: 'What the report does show is that we would get almost as good a result [as a new central Scotland airport] if a second runway was built at Edinburgh, so long as infra structural improvements were put in place.
That will not be popular in Labour's heartland but it's what is needed for Scotland.