Margaret Curran MP, Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary, and Maria Eagle MP, Labour’s Shadow Transport Secretary, have responded to the proposed sale of British Midland Limited (BMI) to International Airlines Group (IAG).
Margaret Curran MP said:
"It is vital for Scotland's economy that we maintain strong and competitive aviation links between Scotland and London’s major hub airport to provide the international connectivity on which our businesses rely. Businesses, passengers and those working in the aviation industry in Scotland will rightly be concerned about the implications of this proposed sale of BMI to IAG. There should now be a full investigation by the competition authorities as to what this sale will mean for important cross-border travel and the implications on services and prices of reduced competition at Heathrow.
“There are key questions which IAG and Lufthansa should answer to reassure Scotland about what this agreement means: will there be any reduction in the number of planes operating between Edinburgh, Aberdeen and London under this proposed sale? Will short-haul slots at Heathrow be given up for long-haul journeys, as occurred when BMI withdrew their London-Glasgow service last year? If BMI Baby and BMI Regional are not included in the sale to IAG, and if these operators face an uncertain future, does this put at risk routes between Scotland and the East Midlands? If Aberdeen based BMI Regional remains with Lufthansa, what do these plans mean for services between Scotland, Copenhagen and Zurich and the jobs created by these services? At a time of rising unemployment, everything should be done to safeguard the jobs of people working for BMI, BMI Baby and BMI Regional in Scotland."
Maria Eagle MP added:
“The competition concerns, highlighted by the sale of BMI, yet again demonstrate that the Government is completely out of touch with the calls from business for a credible aviation policy. By refusing to even consider the need for additional capacity in the South East, the pressure to use scarce slots to open up new long haul routes will grow stronger and stronger, putting at risk vital internal UK connections. It’s clear that this inaction by Ministers is now putting jobs and growth at risk.
“In the light of today’s news, I again urge the Transport Secretary to accept our offer to work across the political divide on a long term strategy for both aviation and high speed rail as part of the plan for jobs and growth that the country needs. Labour has accepted the Government’s decision to cancel the third runway at Heathrow, but Ministers must now accept that their opposition to any other aviation growth in the South East makes no sense.”