Four nations approach ‘vital’ for international travel

Aviation sector bosses have warned against further divergence from the rest of the UK on travel rules.

Four nations approach ‘vital’ for international travel iStock

Scottish aviation bosses have said it is “vital” that a four nations approach is taken on international travel rules.

It comes after the UK transport secretary Grant Shapps announced changes to self-isolation rules for passengers who are returning to England.

Shapps told MPs on Thursday that holidaymakers who have had both doses of the coronavirus vaccine will not need to quarantine when they return from amber list countries.

The changes, which apply to England only, will come into effect from July 19, as most major lockdown restrictions are also lifted across England.

In Scotland, a date of August 9 has been set for the lifting of major legal restrictions, with a decision to be announced on Tuesday as to whether the country can be moved to level zero.

At the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that a decision on whether the changes set out by the UK Government would apply to people returning to Scotland.

She said: “We are considering that carefully, we’ll look carefully at the statement that’s been made in the UK and will come to a decision on that fairly soon in terms of whether or not that will apply to people returning to Scotland.

“We do really want to use vaccination to the maximum in terms of allowing it to open things up that previously would not have been able to be opened up, so I’m not ruling anything out on that front.

“But, clearly, we are at a fragile point in our pathway out of this, so we also just want to be careful.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said the aviation sector in Scotland is “lagging behind” the rest of the UK.

They said: “We wish we could welcome this positive news but we are concerned by the First Minister’s hesitation to confirm the same rules apply in Scotland and we fear we are headed for yet more divergence despite being told repeatedly that a four nations approach is preferable.

“What we do know is this will only damage passenger certainty and confidence while we remain in limbo – and those additional days of waiting represent potentially thousands of family and loved one reunions, business trips and holidays.

“Scotland’s aviation sector is already lagging behind the rest of the UK and further divergence will only see those other countries move further away from us, again placing jobs, livelihoods, connectivity and economic recovery under threat.

“We hope that this will not be the case and will be speaking to the Scottish Government to determine what will shape their decision process and what support will be in place if they decide to curtail the recovery of Scotland’s aviation industry.”

A spokesperson for AGS Airports, which owns Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, said: “Confirmation that fully vaccinated passengers returning from amber list countries will be exempt from quarantine is a welcome step in the right direction, however, it’s vital there is a four nations approach.

“We have been told there would be a four nations approach to the safe restart of international travel and we fully expect this will be the case.”