Covid Scotland: Without a research plan, Scottish airports would be left behind

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Due to a lack of a research plan, Scottish aviation industry leaders have warned that the sector is falling behind – although the Scottish Government said the allegations were “simply not true”

The industry association representing UK-registered airlines, AGS Airports, Edinburgh Airport, and Airlines UK, have cautioned that Scottish aviation is being left behind – and are calling on the Scottish Government to make immediate progress in implementing an efficient testing system that will enable aviation to restart and safeguard thousands of jobs safely.

This means that by taking a Covid 19 test after five days in quarantine, passengers arriving in England will shorten the compulsory quarantine by at least a week.

A bad outcome exempts them from the need to self-isolate themselves.

Industry welcomed the test, calling it a move in the right direction that at the end of the tunnel provides light – but Scottish industry bosses complain that Scotland has no similar plan.

Derek Provan, Chief Executive Officer of AGS Airports, which operates Aberdeen and Glasgow airports, said, “Today, England’s airports and airlines can begin to make plans to resume international air traffic safely and get the aviation industry back on track.”

“For Scotland, there are no such plans. When airlines choose to move their aircraft and with them what is left of our connectivity and the jobs that rely on it, we now risk being left behind.

For months, we have been calling for the implementation of a test system and while we have submitted proposals to the Scottish Government, we have made no progress. When it comes to reopening air services, we should not take a piecemeal approach. Therefore, we need immediate progress from the Scottish Government on the introduction of testing, which must go hand in hand with the introduction of vaccine

The launch of Test to Release in England is a big move forward for the aviation industry, which was decimated by the pandemic and never had the opportunity to recover,” said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK.”

Reducing the quarantine time by more than half would help open up more markets and provide a strong forum for more talks with the government on the use of developments in quarantine removal research.

Scotland’s inability at all – not even a trial – to implement a testing regime is very surprising and at odds with its reputation as an aviation country, placing Scottish airports at a significant competitive disadvantage.

Edinburgh Airport’s spokesperson said, “Airports and airlines across Europe are continuing to plan for a safe aviation reboot, and it is incredibly disappointing that Scotland has decided not to take a seat at that table.” Instead, we live in the worst of all worlds, a competitive environment where Scotland is left behind and standing alone.

There are immediate and long-term issues with not having a strategy, as airlines have already confirmed that separation would result in them moving their aircraft elsewhere, taking jobs and making difficult connections with them.

“Scottish Airports has submitted proposals for improving the existing quarantine scheme to the Scottish Government. Ministries are considering these proposals and we hope they will lead to a pilot project.

“We reiterate our call for an immediate and clear plan from the Scottish Government to introduce testing at the border in conjunction with the vaccination program.”

The Scottish government, however, has refuted the allegations and says it supports the sector and is dedicated to helping it recover.

“A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said, “These statements are simply not valid – precisely because we respect the airline and travel industry so much, the new steps would not be in effect for a longer time than is appropriate to protect public health and avoid the spread of the virus.

“We are absolutely aware of the impact COVID-19 will have on the industry and how important it is to our economy and the challenges we face to help it recover,” he said.

Both monitoring and quarantine decisions were focused during the pandemic on clinical and scientific advice to reduce the risk to the public.

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