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Aberdeen Airport; Vital To Scotland And The Oil Industry

Aug 9, 2008
The area of Dyce, an area located approximately five miles from the centre of Aberdeen is the location of the city's servicing airport. While it is not the largest of the UK's airports, passenger numbers are steadily on the increase and have been for the last decade. At the moment the airport sees around three and a half million passengers pass through annually, this number is eight percent higher than the previous year and hence shows the level of growth for the site.

In terms of Scotland, Aberdeen is regarded to be the third largest airport, meaning that it is of vital importance to the air travel network in Britain. The British Airports Authority owns the site and over the years has worked hard to improve the facilities in the terminal; this has meant allowing shops, restaurants and car hire desks to trade within the terminal building. As well as aeroplane flights, Aberdeen plays a major role in servicing the needs of the North Sea oil industry.

In the early thirties the airport was opened with the goal of providing a link between the northern Scottish islands and major airports such as London's Heathrow and Gatwick. This role however was taken over by Inverness due to a more preferential and northerly location. As with most UK airports Aberdeen was requisitioned by the military during the war years and played an important role in the protection of northern Britain. Fundamentally the role of Aberdeen was to protect the north from German bombing raids originating from Norway. Even with this ultimately important role, the airport predominantly flew reconnaissance sorties in Scandinavia to assess the state of the war effort. After military control was ended, the site returned to civil aviation uses.

Aberdeen was in a prime position to take advantage of the North Sea oil boom during the sixties. This meant helicopters were regularly flown from the site's heliport to ferry workers to the numerous oil rigs in the North Sea. The role continues to this day and currently Aberdeen is regarded to be the busiest Heliport anywhere in the world. These flights form a large constituent of the airport's income; around five hundred oil industry workers use the airport annually, while around forty thousand flight movements were controlled from the site. This role is so important to the airport that it is estimated that over half of the movements at any one time are made up from helicopters.

As well as this vital function servicing the needs of the oil industry, Aberdeen has increasingly attempting to court business from budget airlines to increase destinations to Europe. This increased tourist focus has meant that shops, cafes and car hire provisions have been expanded to meet the needs of travellers. Additionally, to service both oil rig customers and tourists a number of hotels have been built to accommodate travellers. One of these is rumoured to be part of the Hilton chain, showing that not all those flying to the oil rigs are blue collar workers; plenty of executives also regularly make the journey.

As a result of government legislation Aberdeen has had to put down in writing its plans for development over the next thirty years. The executives at the airport are hoping to extend the runway by around three hundred metres. This extension, if given planning permission will give the airport facilities to land flights from America, a vital link for many of the oil industry players. The extension however will not just bring transatlantic flights, it is also hoped a larger runway will mean European destinations further afield will become a reality.

As with many of the airports in the UK local residents are vehement that expansion should not happen in their back yard; additionally, environmental campaigners have also voiced protestations. These protests however are likely to be overruled should planning permission be given. Whatever happens with the expansion plans, the airport will continue to perform an important function in servicing both the Scottish nation and the oil industry.
About the Author
Air travel expert Thomas Pretty looks at how car hire Aberdeen airport services have been instrumental in the site's development.
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