Scottish Airports urge government to match English travel rules

The industry wants a “fair and consistent” four-nations approach to the safe reopening of aviation across the UK 

The chief executives of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen airports have called for the Scottish government to follow England's relaxation of travel restrictions.  

Westminster’s transport secretary, Grant Shapps, recently announced that fully vaccinated passengers would no longer need to quarantine on return from Amber destinations after July 19. 

Instead, travelers will have to get a test three days before returning to England, as well as a PCR test two days after arriving. They will also have to prove they were vaccinated at least 14 days previously. 

Edinburgh Airport
Photo Geograph/Mike Pennington

In an open letter to first minister Nicola Sturgeon, bosses sought clarification on whether Scotland would implement similar changes, and asked for a more positive move towards reopening the sector.  

“Tuesday’s announcement from the first minister is largely what we had called for, however, it comes with a significant and confusing caveat,” said a spokesman for AGS, which owns Aberdeen and Glasgow Airports. 

They added: “From Monday the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) recommendation not to travel to amber list countries will be removed for those who have been fully vaccinated. Meanwhile in Scotland, the advice against non-essential travel to the same destinations will remain in place even though the FCDO is responsible for the UK’s official travel guidance for purposes of travel insurance. 

“Whilst public health must always be the overriding priority, it is absolutely vital that a fair and consistent four-nations approach to the safe reopening of aviation is in place to ensure there is no disparity or further confusion for passengers trying to make sense of the current complexities associated with international travel.”    

Without rectifying the discrepancy, the industry fears that citizens will now travel to airports in England to avoid the added expense of COVID-19 tests. 

“It is not fair that people in Scotland are being forced to bear such high costs, when there are private suppliers offering the same tests that meet strict UK Government requirements for a fraction of the cost,” said Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airports Operators Association. 

She added: “This lack of parity with England will price many people out of travelling and will be a very real barrier to airports and airlines as we try to safely re-establish our connectivity. It will also push passengers to airports in England to avoid the cost of the Scottish Government’s testing package meaning they would not receive any form of data.”