The Scottish Government must come up with a plan to revive the fortunes of the country’s airports, Labour leader Anas Sarwar has said.
Speaking ahead of a visit to Glasgow Airport on Tuesday, Mr Sarwar urged ministers to “sell brand Scotland to the world”.
According to the Scottish Labour leader, the airport is running at 86% of its pre-Covid capacity and has lost routes to key areas including North America in recent years.
“Scotland’s airports are the gateway to our economy, but years of government failure has pushed them to breaking point,” Mr Sarwar said.
“This damaging drop in connectivity in Glasgow and across Scotland is consistent with the SNP’s record in government – one of managed decline and economic failure.
“The SNP is choking off Scotland’s potential by letting our connectivity collapse.
“Without a focus on route development connecting Scotland to the rest of the world, our tourism and hospitality sectors risk declining.
“It’s all too clear that SNP inaction is holding Scotland back and disconnecting Scotland from the rest of the world. We need to sell Brand Scotland to the world, not turn our backs to the opportunities that exist.
“Our airports are key to us unleashing our economic potential and taking our place on the world stage – we urgently need a plan to get them back on track.”
Transport minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are committed to working with Scotland’s airports to help restore and grow our international connectivity, while not returning to previous levels of emissions.
“Our role is complementary to that of airports who have the primary responsibility for securing new routes and working with airlines to make them sustainable.
“We take a partnership approach with Transport Scotland, VisitScotland and Scottish Development International, working with airports and airlines to provide attractive cooperative marketing packages, market intelligence and data promoting the potential of the Scottish market and connectivity with industry.”
He said the Scottish Government has “helped to attract numerous new routes in recent years, including to key markets and hubs in North America, the Middle East and Europe”, citing new routes from Edinburgh to Atlanta in the US and Calgary in Canada.
He added: “This Scottish Government values the importance of our airports and is committed to further promoting Scotland as an attractive destination for airlines and travellers.”