A major roadworks programme begins tonight on an approach road to Edinburgh Airport.
Essential night-time maintenance to improve the surface on the M9 at Junction 1, southbound, will take place over the next four nights on a crucial route for those travelling to catch flights out of Edinburgh Airport.
Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, told travellers they must adjust their arrangements to ensure they reach the airport in time.
He said: “Doing the roadworks overnight certainly minimises the disruption to motorists.
“But this is a crucial route to the airport and is used 24/7 because flights are departing and arriving late at night and during the early hours.
“And motorists have also got to remember that some of the worst tailbacks in Scotland have been caused by contractors over-running the time they should be working.
“This could cause major obstacles for air travellers if it happens on their day of departure.”
The slip road will be closed from 8pm until 6am on each of the four nights.
Road users are being warned to allow for an additional journey time of around 11 minutes in completing the diversion.
The 1.1km long stretch of road at Newbridge Junction, as well as lane 1 of the M9 adjacent to the works, will be closed during the works and a clearly signed diversion will be in place.
Traffic will be diverted to the M8 Junction 2 to travel eastbound towards Edinburgh, continuing to Hermiston Gait and then be directed back along the westbound M8 to the Junction 2 offslip, returning to Newbridge Roundabout by exiting the diversion at Junction 1 using the northbound off-slip.
The possibility of a panda being born at Edinburgh Zoo has alerted panda lovers around the world . The female giant panda has been artificially inseminated.
The zoo is also going to try to mate the pandas naturally before the end of the short breeding season.
Edinburgh Zoo acquired the pandas on loan from China in 2011 and previous attempts to mate the pair have failed.
Tian Tian, which means Sweetie, and male Yang Guang (Sunshine) were the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years.
The last pandas in the UK, Ming Ming and Bao Bao, left a zoo in London in 1994 after failing to mate.
Iain Valentine, director of giant pandas for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said artificial insemination took place on Tian Tian in the early hours of Thursday.
“The procedure was carried out by the expert team of three veterinarians at RZSS, alongside Chinese colleague Doctor Wang Chengdong from the China Conservation and Research Centre for Giant Pandas (CCRCGP),” he said.
“Only semen from male panda Yang Guang was used during the procedure.
“Natural mating will also be attempted today before the short breeding window comes to a close this afternoon (Thursday) as both pandas remain extremely interested in one another, but as Tian Tian’s transition to peak was so rapid it was a priority to move straight to artificial insemination first.”
Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) is fast tracking delegates in Scotland’s capital city with travel cards for airport transfersand other journeys on Edinburgh Trams and Lothian Buses.
The venue is promoting ‘Ridacard’ to professional event managers and this week hundreds of delegates attending a major pharmaceutical conference in the city will use the prepaid travel cards for the first time.
Visiting professional event manager, Hayley Bridgman of Ashfield Meetings and Events said: “Integrated public transport systems are highly prized and well used by international conference delegates who want to make the most of their time in a capital city that many will be visiting for the first time”.
EICC Corporate Sales Specialist, Ekaterina Alison said: “International meetings bring thousands of business tourists to Edinburgh and increasingly organisers are concerned to build public transport into the programme which is always the best environmental option”.
Edinburgh Trams operate a 14km route between York Place in the city centre and Edinburgh Airport, roughly every 10 minutes. Each tram vehicle can accommodate 250 people at any one time and are 100% wheelchair accessible. Along the route are 15 tram stops, connecting passengers with a bus network of over 70 routes, railway stations and popular leisure and business destinations. Travelling from the airport to the city centre takes approximately 35 minutes.
Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh is served by daily direct flights from 85 European cities and from New York, Chicago and Philadelphia in the United States. Middle Eastern routes include daily services from the Qatari capital, Doha and from 2015, Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.
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Giving control over Air Passenger Duty (APD) to the Scottish Parliament could encourage visitors to come to the country for the Ryder Cup and Commonwealth Games, transport and tourism bosses say.
The Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup will be held in Scotland next year but some industry leaders believe tourists could be put off from flying to the country because of high APD charges.
Late last year, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh airports commissioned a report that claimed the charge could lead to a drop in both passengers and tourism spending. The tax could cost the Scottish economy £210 milliona year by 2016 and reduce the number of visitors by 2.1 million a year.
Transport Minister Keith Brown said: “Scotland will welcome the world in 2014 courtesy of the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup, and yet we are in the absurd situation of increasing costs for people who intend to visit Scotland.
“The ‘World Economic Forum, Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Report 2013’ shows that the UK has amongst the highest aviation taxes and charges in the world, ranked 139th out of 140.
“I would urge the UK Government to deliver devolution of APD as soon as possible so that we can develop a regime that makes Scotland more competitive.”
Gordon Dewar, chief executive of Edinburgh Airport, said airlines are questioning the viability of basing planes in Scotland because of APD.
He said: “This tax has now hit its tipping point where the damage that it is doing to Scotland far outweighs the benefits. It cannot stand and must be reviewed as a matter of urgency.
“Airlines are telling us that they are seeing it have an impact on passenger flows which is ultimately having an impact on their decision making on where to put planes. This means that our country has to work harder to get the connections it requires.
“The evidence lays bare the argument that this tax is assisting with the deficit. Rather, APD is hindering our ability to tackle the economic challenges Scotland faces.”
Scotland’s busiest airports were forced to limit vital fuel supplies to airlines to avoid disruption to flights, it has emerged.
Operators at the country’s two busiest hubs – Edinburgh and Glasgow – stopped receiving deliveries from the Grangemouth Petroineos refinery
Concern was raised over the quality of the jet fuel supplied by the Grangemouth plant.
Fearing it could lead to supply shortages Scottish airport bosses were forced to ration stocks to try to avoid flight cancellations and disruption. A spokesman at Edinburgh Airport confirmed that it had experienced problems in fuel supplies since Tuesday.
He said: “There has been a shortage of aircraft fuel across Scottish airports caused by quality issues at Petroineos’ Grangemouth refinery.
“This has meant we have had to ration our supplies.”
Glasgow Airport said it had maintained its flight schedule by using stocks held on site.
Ineos – which operates the refinery – stressed no flights had been disrupted as a result of the problem.
Initially it was feared that crucial fuel supplies to Scotland’s garage forecourts could also be affected although none have been reported.
But the AA put its breakdown teams on alert while Central Scotland police force did likewise with its traffic division.
In a statement Ineos said: “Petroineos has been supplying jet fuel this week to all airports in Scotland. The company has been working with customers to help them prioritise deliveries as suppliers bring their infrastructure and levels of resilience back to normal.
“To our knowledge no passengers have been affected since deliveries commenced on Monday morning.”
But the problem has sparked concern that there could be a shortage of fuel supplies this winter.
Refinery maintenance and closures in Europe and the US are limiting the availability of oil products, making retailers vulnerable to supply shocks.
Prime Minister David Cameron has completed his cabinet reshuffle and he has replaced Justine Greening as Transport Minister .
Greening is MP for Roehampton & Southfields, directly under the airport’s flight path , and her mission was to stop the development of a third runway at Heathrow Airport .In the end she was only able to prevent the government giving the green light in this parliament.
The question is now not when but how the Conservatives do a massive a u-turn on the third runway. It looks as if they want another enquiry to delay the decision until after the next election.
Patrick McLoughlin, who will take over as transport secretary, has declared he has an “open mind” on the expansion of Britain’s only hub airport, joining chancellor George Osborne in a cabinet which increasingly favours a third runway, with the business case trumping environmental concerns.
While the party will suffer in seats close to the airport, they have calculated the economic recovery must take precedence.
The business community has been baying for additional capacity to connect to growing markets in Asia and South America for years, and it now seems certain the Conservatives will include support for a third runway in their manifesto for the 2015 election.
Operating Heathrow as a ‘mixed-mode’ airport would increase capacity by as much as a quarter, but would again breach noise restrictions as planes approach from different directions.
Short-haul flights could also be barred from precious Heathrow landing slots, allowing only long-haul traffic to use limited resources. This might work in the short-term but is no solution.
Gatwick could be expanded, or even Stansted, with second runways at either. But, in reality, the UK can maintain only one hub airport.
‘Heathwick’ – a high-speed rail link between Gatwick and Heathrow – was swiftly rejected last year after being put forward by civil servants.
This would leave only Boris’s fantasy island in the Thames.
Not only is the planned location in one of the most congested flight paths in Europe, on the approach to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, that path covers five separate Special Protection Areas packed with wildlife.
Environmentalists could delay the project for years, while birds would also be hazardous to planes.
Funding for the £40 billion project is also far from assured, with some even suggesting a levy on planes landing at Heathrow could be imposed: a hard sell to British Airways, which would effectively be asked to pay for the demolition of its established base.
As for the transport connections? After the years it took to have Crossrail approved, it is hard to imagine Boris Island and its required infrastructure being approved by 2050, if ever.
Outspoken as always, leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson rose to the challenge earlier, with a statement from the mayor exclaiming: “The third runway would mean more traffic, more noise, more pollution – and a serious reduction in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people.
“We will fight this all the way. Even if a third runway was built, it would not do the job of meeting Britain’s needs.
“If we are to remain Europe’s premier business hub we need a new four-runway airport, preferably to the east of London, that addresses the problem of aviation capacity before it is too late, and business is driven into the arms of our European competitors.”
From the point of view of airports in Scotland like Edinburgh and Glasgow, any development which brings more passengers into Britain would be a good thing as a proportion of those flyers will terminate their journey in Scotland.
Stansted airport is to be sold off after its owner BAA gave up on its long legal battle today.
The Spanish company, which recently lost a Court of Appeal ruling over the Essex airport, said it would not make a further appeal and accepts it has to sell it. The Competition Commission (CC) ruled that BAA must dispose of Gatwick, Stansted and one of its Scottish airports following an inquiry into the company’s airport ownership.
Gatwick was sold to Global Infrastructure Partnerships (GIP) in December 2009 and GIP also took over Edinburgh Airport last year.But then BAA mounted a series of legal challenges to the CC ruling, with the latest one – against the sale of Stansted – ending in defeat at the High Court in July this year.
After that latest loss, BAA said it would appeal to the Supreme Court but today the Spanish-owned company signalled an end to its fight to hang on to Stansted.
Edinburgh Airport is not just Scotland’s busiest airport – it is also officially the best airport in Europe.
Edinburgh Airport was named “Best European airport: 5m – 10m passengers” at the eighth Annual Airports Council International awards in Madrid. The airport, which changed hands this month in a £807.2 million deal, was given the award for its focus on its customer base and the responses to the feedback that they provide.
Edinburgh held off competition from Cologne, Birmingham, Luton, Nice, Marseille and Milan to hold on to the title.
Chief executive Jim O’Sullivan, said: “This is an outstanding achievement. To win the prestigious award for the second consecutive year is impressive enough, but to do so whilst having the challenge of being sold is truly amazing.
“The team at Edinburgh airport is dedicated, focused and deserving of this accolade. We will keep working hard to deliver what our passengers want – great service and a diverse range of routes. That’s what’s at the core of this and last year’s success.”
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) took ownership of the capital airport on June 1 after buying it from BAA in an arrangement announced in April. The airport is also busy because of the construction work taking place there at the moment. Edinburgh’s new tramline terminates at the airport and visitors to the airport will notice the end of the line being installed just a few yards from the terminal building.
BAA was forced to sell it after the Competition Commission ruled that it must sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh airport.
GIP is an independent infrastructure fund manager. It took over London City in 2006 and then bought Gatwick from BAA for £1.51 billion in 2009.
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