Air travel ‘will take at least five years to recover’

Only a limited number of flights have continued during lockdown.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson has predicted air travel to and from Scotland will take at least five years to return to pre-coronavirus levels.

A limited number of flights have continued during lockdown and he said the Scottish Government expects “a slow recovery of some air services” over the summer.

This will start with domestic services and be followed by international routes, he said.

In a written answer to Scottish Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart about the speed routes can be re-established, Matheson said: “Realistically, it will take at least five years for services to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels.”

He added: “We are working with Scotland’s airports to re-establish connectivity to support business and the inbound tourism market, focusing first on the most important routes serving key markets.

“The rate at which routes can be re-established depends on travel restrictions at home and abroad, and the extent to which airlines have reduced fleets as a result of the crisis.”

The Tories are calling for the Scottish Government to take urgent action to mitigate the economic impact on the airline industry and tourism sector.

Lockhart, the party’s business and transport spokesman, said: “The revelation that our airline industry will be disrupted for at least five years shows that this economic crisis will have savage consequences.

“The potential loss of jobs within our airline services, as well as the wider economic impact of lack of tourism and travel will change our economy irreparably.

“The SNP Government is clearly aware of this problem and yet we have no idea how they intend to address it. The SNP must consider any and all options to revitalise our economy before it’s too late.

“We have all the indications of a massive economic shock, the SNP Government has all the powers it needs – it must act now to get our country moving.”

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