Kirkcaldy waterfront airshow: How do we make it happen?

It'll take some organising, but it could well be worth it.
It'll take some organising, but it could well be worth it.

News that organisers of the Scottish International Airshow are in talks to being the event to Kirkcaldy’s waterfront have been met with cautious optimism.

Kirkcaldy is one of three possible sites for the 2019 airshow, with organisers already quite positive about the prom being the perfect viewpoint to watch jets and classic planes soar above the Forth.

The airshow is normally held annually in Ayr, and South Ayrshire Council put £200,000 into the most recent two-day event, and the local authority estimates £5 million generated for the area’s economy.

It is understood that Fife’s plan involves a one-day event at a smaller cost, possibly around £100,000.

North Ayrshire and Inverclyde are two other possible locations for the 2019 airshow.

Organisers have previously said that Kirkcaldy is “possibly the frontrunner” to host the event while Ayr takes a year out.

Kirkcaldy Area Committee convener councillor Neil Crooks said there was reason for optimism, but he urged caution until all details are hammered out.

He said: “The reality is we are only one of three councils in a conversation.

“In principle it was important to give some political commitment to the idea and this was the discussion myself and David Alexander had last week.

“He is a co-leader of Fife Council with corporate influence so to commit in principle to investing in a Fife Air Show as he did was a welcome intervention.

“I am also very aware that there are many demands for public money and any such expenditure must be seriously examined before commitment.”

Cllr Crooks said greater understanding was needed about the costs and benefits.

He added: “Conversations have been going on for at least four months with at least three councils including Fife. Leuchars and St Andrews were discounted and the organisers have made positive noises about the Kirkcaldy option.

“There is a gap in 2019 as South Ayrshire Council won’t host it next year and if Kirkcaldy is to be the gap filler then we need to understand the cost and benefits from what looks like a significant public investment for a one day event.

“Council officers will be looking at providing more information to councillors as they engage with the organisers and I think it would be a terrific event on our waterfront.”

Scottish International Airshow Director Doug McLean said both sides appear to be on the same page.

He said: “We’re looking at it very positively. In principle we agree that everybody wants it, and that there should be no barriers, but we obviously have to go through some details.

“But at the moment I don’t see any impediments.

“Everybody seems to be pointing in the same direction. We’re quite encouraged. We’ve already started making operational plans and we’re pushing ahead as if everything’s going to go ahead.

“We’ve got various meetings set up to discuss technical details and air traffic control matters, and looking at the way that we would deliver the airshow.”

Gordon Mole, chief officer, Business & Employability, Fife Council, said: “Fife Council is meeting with the organisers of the Scottish International Airshow, key agencies and business organisations including Kirkcaldy4All to discuss the steps needed to bring an airshow to Fife next summer.

“A key part of these discussions will be looking at how we attract large numbers of visitors to mid-Fife, benefitting local businesses and the wider mid-Fife economy.”

Bill Harvey, of Kirkcaldy4All is also set to take part in talks over the event.

“Obviously it would be a fantastic thing to have in Kirkcaldy without a doubt, and the waterfront would appear to be a first-class location for it.

“The difficulties for the town would be how to maximise such a large event and how you get the full economic impact, so that would need to be looked at, in terms of how our infrastrucrture would handle it, and how our business would go.

“It’s something that we’re happy to look at and we’re delighted to be involved in. I believe we’re being invited by Fife Council to participate in discussions to see if it can be achieved.

“It’s a big event, and it’s going to need the police, the fire service, and the full weight of Fife Council behind it.

“We’re delighted to be part of it, but we need to be convinced that there’s a good economic benefit for us, and if indeed we can make it a regular thing.”