The owner of Glasgow and Aberdeen airports has urged the Scottish Government to think again about excluding Spain from its list of countries free of quarantine restrictions.
AGS Airports chief executive Derek Provan said the decision to insist that passengers flying from Spain self isolate for 14 days would affect 60% of its leisure flights.
Spain and Serbia were among the few countries included on the Westminster Government’s ‘air bridges’ list but not on Scotland’s. Portugal, another popular destination for Scots, did not make either list. The situation will be reviewed on July 20.
Provan said: “We have been calling for a targeted, risk-based approach which would allow us to safely re-establish routes and get our country moving again. Today’s announcement means airlines can now start making decisions on what flights they will operate, however, the glaring omission is Spain.
“It’s important we work quickly to bring the travel advice issued today in line with the rest of the UK. We’ve requested a meeting with the Scottish Government to discuss what further measures could be put in place that would allow the lifting of restrictions and prevent airlines from cancelling routes to what is one of Scotland’s most popular and important tourism destinations.”
Ryanair and Easyjet have restarted flights from Scottish airports to Spanish destinations including Malaga, Ibiza, Tenerife, Alicante, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, and Murcia, and Faro in Portugal.
Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “We welcome clarity around the opening up of routes into Scotland and support the Scottish Government’s risk-based approach in balancing the economic challenges with the health risks.
“However the news that Spain is not on the list of air bridges today will come as a blow to the aviation sector and our tourism industry with Spain representing a huge proportion of restart plans.
“The Spanish market accounted for 250,000 visits to Scotland in 2018 and with many Scots now expected to shelve plans to travel to this destination, it may be likely that airlines abandon plans to capture the summer market which would have been required to avoid mass redundancies across the sector”.
Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce , said: “Businesses across Scotland will be relieved that we now know which countries tourists will be able to travel to without having to go into quarantine. This will enable our travel and tourism industry to start taking bookings once again.
“We are pleased to see the list of countries are broadly aligned with the UK Government and we appreciate the rationale presented as to why Spain is not currently included.
“We are reassured by the First Minister’s commitment to keep this under daily review in an attempt to identify additional mitigation measures which could be adopted quickly. We need to see Spain added to the list safely and quickly, not only for the aviation and tourism industry but also for moving freight and exports.
“Spain is an important market for Scotland and figures from VisitScotland showed visitors from Spain spent just under £80 million in 2018. Business has the expertise to work with government to identify and implement additional mitigation measures to enable the restart of this important tourist and trade route, especially during the peak summer period.”