• Quote: ‘Airports and airlines in England making plans to safely restart international travel and get aviation industry moving again. We are at risk of being left behind’ – Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports

By Andrew Atkinson

AGS Airports, Edinburgh Airport and Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered airlines, warned Scottish aviation is being left behind, due to the lack of a coronavirus testing strategy. They called on the Scottish Government to make urgent progress on the introduction of an effective testing regime that will enable the safe restart of aviation and protect thousands of jobs.

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports which owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: “Airports and airlines in England can start making plans to safely restart international travel and get the aviation industry moving again. There are no such plans in place for Scotland.

“We now risk being left behind as airlines will opt to relocate their aircraft and with them what’s left of our connectivity and the jobs that rely on them.

“We have been calling for the introduction of a testing regime for months and despite putting proposals in front of the Scottish Government, we’re no further forward.

“We can’t have a piecemeal approach when it comes to reopening aviation which is why we need to see urgent progress from the Scottish Government on the introduction of testing which needs to go hand in hand with the vaccination rollout.”

Glasgow Chamber of Commerce has also voiced concerns about the future viability of aviation.

Chief executive, Stuart Patrick, said: “Scottish airports are going to be in a vicious competition to claw back lost connections.

“How quickly will demand for overseas holidays and business travel re-emerge, and what shape will the aviation industry be in to respond?.

“The success of the city’s economy and its airport have to date been profoundly intertwined.

“The range and depth of our international air connectivity has an impact, not just on leisure tourism upon which so many of our local businesses depend, but on inward investment decisions in financial services and healthcare industries.

“And on the location choices made by literally hundreds of business conferences which have been the mainstay of the Scottish Events Campus, and on the ability of global industries like whisky and engineering to reach their markets all around the planet.”

Ali Gayward, UK country manager for easyJet, said: “In anticipation that demand for travel will return we continue to strengthen our network in Scotland, providing more direct domestic and international connections across the UK and Europe.

“Returning customer momentum is supported by the welcome news of the vaccination rollout which will enable normal life to resume including travelling again for work, study, to visit friends and family, or for a much-needed holiday.”

Derek Provan said: “We are in constant discussions with our airline partners to ensure we can support them with their plans throughout the pandemic.

“Bringing back business safely is a key priority at our airports.”