Scots airport recovery slowest in UK, lags EU

Edinburgh Airport

The recovery of Scotland’s aviation sector is the slowest in the UK and continues to lag behind the rest of Europe — making clear the need for a recovery strategy.

Edinburgh Airport has produced a report called “The Importance of Aviation to Scotland’s Economic Success” which sets out where the sector’s recovery currently is against competitors in the rest of the UK and Europe.

The report, shared with Scottish Government ministers, warns that airlines have already moved some capacity to other regions and that will mean a meaningful recovery will be pushed into 2022, causing Scotland to compete for capacity from a far weaker position than other countries who have acted quickly.

The report was produced in July and set out proposals that could be taken to hasten recovery, and talks continue with the Scottish Government on a recovery plan.

The report says proposals to consider include:

  • Meaningful engagement between the Scottish Government and the industry to “seek optimisation of travel restrictions and their relaxation”
  • Alignment with England on return testing (no pre-return test, and lateral flow day 2)
  • A clear roadmap for the easing of restrictions
  • A consistent four nations approach to enable Scottish airports to compete fairly with other UK airports
  • Reduction/removal of APD for 2022 and tapering return while restrictions still apply
  • Recognition that secure airside transit/transfer via international hubs is not classified as having been in a red list country, if the hub itself is red.

Edinburgh Airport CEO Gordon Dewar said: “Aviation has been one of the hardest hit sectors throughout the pandemic and we will be one of the last to fully recover, but when we talk about aviation, we have to consider what it brings to Scotland.

“Aviation brings people to Scotland, be they tourists or students, researchers or families. It brings business and investment to Scotland.

“It takes Scottish businesses and talent to the world.

“It is important to our economy and its recovery. Unfortunately, we are lagging behind our competitors due to tighter restrictions and slower relaxations and will only isolate ourselves further if we don’t have a coherent strategy in place.

“This is a chain economy – travel brings people, jobs, investment and spend to Scotland, and we must act to protect the travel sector and the many moving parts of it.

“Further divergence won’t do that, and we again urge the Scottish Government to listen to clinicians and follow a four nations approach that will help both public health and economic health.

“We think this report is an important part of the conversation and will help shape a recovery strategy so we can position ourselves on solid footing to recover as quickly and sustainability as possible.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce CEO Liz Cameron said: “This report highlights the importance of aviation to Scotland’s recovery and how the sector links into the wider economy.

“This is more than just travel and tourism – it’s also about business investment, international trade and exports, and the many thousands of jobs that are supported by Scotland’s connectivity to the world.

“A four nations approach will ensure Scotland remains competitive and well placed to recover sustainably, and we hope this report helps to inform the Scottish Government’s decision.”