The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) has expressed its frustration at comments made by the first minister on television which indicated that there is still no
Scottish government appetite for, or commitment to, the opening up of international travel.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday said progress in tackling coronavirus in the UK must not be put in jeopardy with “too lax a position on international travel”.
She added that she was continuing to push the UK government to take a tougher approach on opening up overseas travel, adding that travel brought a risk of importing new strains of the virus into the UK.
In response, Joanne Dooey, president of the SPAA, said: “We understand that our nations’ health is paramount, yet there are options which are, and should be available, now for international travel such as pre and post travel testing, vaccination certificates and the traffic light system which will mitigate risk.
“We have been working with the Scottish Aviation Group and Scottish government to build a route map to open up travel but comments like this make us wonder if these groups are just paying lip service – publicly supporting the restart of travel whilst actually taking no action to advance it.”
Dooey added: “It’s disappointing to hear such negativity about international travel once again – and no proactive approach to how we can start travel moving again.
“The first minister talks about last year but last summer there were no vaccinations and we had neither the levels of testing nor the ability to undertake genomic sequencing which we now have to trace variants.
“Restarting international travel will be crucial to kickstarting Scotland’s economy, yet business and leisure travellers are being given no inkling about when and how this will be accomplished for Scots.”
The Westminster government has provisionally set a date for May 17th for international travel to restart, with the introduction of a traffic light system to mitigate risk.
However, authorities in Scotland appear to be moving away from something similar.
Dooey continued: “Until today our sector had been working on the basis that at least some international travel could potentially restart from May 17th, or a date close to that, on a four nations approach.
“What is likely without a four nations’ approach this summer is that those who want to travel and who can afford to, will travel to English airports at the expense of the Scottish economy.
“Airport, airlines and travel companies cannot remain mothballed with the expectation that they will be able to reopen as they were previously at some undetermined date in the future.
“We will lose jobs and importantly our connectivity to the rest of the world.
“The collapse of our industry is being fast tracked.”