Government aviation policy yet to take off

Monday, 19 July 2021

Aviation sector gets a raw deal from Government

Many business sectors have suffered during the pandemic but few have had such a tough time as aviation.  This is a sector that was a direct and indirect generator of huge amounts of economic activity and prosperity  prior to Covid, and one that should play a pivotal role in the recovery.  Aviation accesibility provided by Edinburgh Airport and the other main airports in Scotland directly supports over 200,000 visitor economy jobs.  It connects Scottish businesses with existing and potential new markets and customers across the world.  Lots of the goods we export actually reach their destination via the cargo holds of commercial airliners.  

The approach of the Scottish Government and the UK Government towards the aviation industry and some of the decisions they have made about international travel during the pandemic have fallen short of what was needed.  It has left Scottish airports with a difficult task to compete for, and win back, capacity that may be lost for years or for ever.   We are already falling behind our competitors because the UK has some of the highest travel restrictions in the world and Scotland often has even higher levels of restrictions than the rest of the UK.   There has been no sector specific support for aviation, unlike in Europe, where governments have made major investments to support the sector. 

Alan Mitchell, Chief Executive of Fife Chamber, said: “Fife and Scotland need successful airports to attract visitors and their spending and to give us B2B connections to the global market place for our goods and services.   They have not been given adequate financial support during the pandemic, unlike their international peers.  The industry has not been listened to properly whe it has put forward suggestions to resume travel safely.   They have had to face the additional, very unwelcome, obstacle of seeing the governments in London and Edinburgh actively talk down and discourage air travel, even while creating rules that make it legal to travel internationally.   There appears to be no clear plan to encourage aviation recovery in 2022 or beyond.   

“There has to be a step change in government policy.  Winning back routes lost during the pandemic or winning entirely new routes will not be easy and our traditional disadvantages, such as our geographical location at the fringe of Europe, are still real.  Our airports, and Edinburgh in particular, were very successful before Covid and they can be again if the UK and the Scottish Government throw their full weight behind them and engage productively with them to build a sustaionable recovery.”

Visit Edinburgh Airport’s site for all international travel related Covid rules.