Reports in The Scotsman over the weekend suggest that a new air service linking Scotland with the Gulf region will be announced this week.
First Minister Alex Salmond is visiting Abu Dhabi this week for discussions with the emirates’ renewables giant Masdar. Salmond is expected to use his time in Abu Dhabi to confirm a new air service which would provide Scotland’s second direct link to the region.
It is not clear whether the service would be operated by Scottish newcomers Etihad or Qatar Airways. Or whether it would lead to Emirates either starting a new service to Edinburgh or doubling the flight frequency (the Dubai flag-carrier currently flies once daily) of its existing Glasgow operation.
So far Edinburgh has been underserved by direct flights to the Middle East and points further East. In a way this is an anomaly seeing as Edinburgh not only boasts a well-heeled population but is also the home of the Scottish Parliament and one of the UK’s most important financial centres.
A new Gulf service by either Emirates, Etihad or Qatar would open up not just the Middle East but also provide Edinburghians with indirect links to Africa, mainland China (Scotland is keen to expand its links - hence the two pandas in the zoo), India, SE Asia and Australasia.
It would also prove a boon for inbound business and tourism as it would allow visitors to make “open jaw” trips (arriving at one city and departing from another) to the UK.
Report by Alex McWhirter