The new Scottish government must meaningfully engage with airports and airlines to ensure the aviation sector bounces back from the pandemic, the boss of Edinburgh Airport has warned.
The sector has been one of the hardest hit by coronavirus, as all but essential international travel was outlawed in the early part of the pandemic.
Gordon Dewar said the administration elected on May 6 must look to start the recovery of the sector on day one, and he called for a clear roadmap out of restrictions, plans to support the long-term growth of aviation, and a commitment to protect it from the effects of any new restrictions.
Laying out the airport’s “asks” for the new Scottish government, Mr Dewar stressed the importance of a plan being drawn up to bring the sector out of restrictions, which could be presented to airlines planning routes for the next few months to ensure Scotland does not lose out on flights in the early part of the recovery.
He said: “Scotland has collectively built an impressive network of international air services in the last 20 years, which provides the country with the connectivity on which our global influence and competitiveness depends.
“That network is being undermined by the lack of a detailed Covid recovery plan that we can, as a country, present to airlines to give them the confidence to fly to and from Scotland.
“Direct connections are vital to avoid us all having to travel through airports in England or in Europe; to allow efficient exporting of our goods to overseas markets and to welcome tourists and students to Scotland, on which so many jobs depend.
“Scotland’s recovery from Covid is going to be one of the most difficult challenges that the country has and will ever have faced. The pandemic has touched every single aspect of our lives and while we have adapted well to the challenging circumstances, this period will have long-lasting consequences.
“It is imperative that the recovery plan is well-structured and comprehensive and that it engages industry and is not just imposed without an appreciation of the realities of the sector.
“This is not about the narrow interests of Edinburgh Airport – it is about the social and economic benefits that come to us all from a thriving system of airports and airlines, connecting people and goods and services with the world beyond our shores and forging enduring cultural and educational connections.”