Monday, April 16, 2007

Come Fly With Me (Courtesy of the Scottish Executive)

Last year under the Freedom of Information Act I wrote to the Scottish Executive requesting details of how much money had been paid, and to who it had been given, under the Scottish Route Development Fund. This is the scheme to attract more airlines to fly direct services to Scotland from cities in the UK, Europe and elsewhere. In July I got their reply which showed that the development fund has been set at £14.4 million and by March 2006 £3.6 million had been spent. They gave me a list of new routes, and the airlines serving them but couldn't tell me how much had been given to each one as the amounts of money were "commercially sensitive"

Of the forty seven routes that were started up by March 2006, fifteen have ceased operating. It's unclear from how the Executive's reply is worded whether or not the money that was paid to these airlines is recoverable or it just goes to the BAA who repay it to the Executive. A 32% failure rate is not great, even by the standards of new route start-ups. The whereabouts of the money would be interesting to know. Edinburgh got the most route start-ups (15) and the highest failure rate (7).

The boast of the BAA and the Executive has been how good this has been for business flyers. This is untrue. Most of the routes still operating are holiday destinations and timings are as often as not pretty unsatisfactory if you are a business traveller.

Of the thirty two routes still operating, 8 were domestic flights within the UK, five were to Poland, 3 to Spain, 3 to Germany, 3 to Italy, 2 to the USA.

I'm going to ask some more questions.

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