Nicola Sturgeon frequently sought to impose tougher pandemic restrictions on Brits in Scotland than Boris Johnson had enforced in England. However, a new cross-party committee report by MPs has found the measures caused “severe difficulties” for Scottish airports.
The implications of this are thought to be so detrimental that it could take years to repair.
Airports in Scotland suffered “the worst of both worlds” after they witnessed a cut in passengers caused by the SNP’s strict policies.
It is said the measures also brought no additional public health benefit as Scots flew in and out of airports in England instead.
The committee, chaired by the SNP’s Pete Wishart, called for a four-nation approach to restrictions in future national emergencies.
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The committee said: “The Scottish Government’s stricter approach brought severe difficulties.”
Mr Wishart added: “Now the UK Government must publish its recovery plans for the sector. The uncertainty is continuing to be deeply damaging and delays any progress to make the sector fit for the 21st century.”
Inglis Lyon, managing director of Highlands and Islands airports, appeared to agree with the committee that an intra-UK approach was needed.
He said: “The lack of a four-nations approach to international travel really wasn’t helpful at all.”
According to the Times, almost 29million passengers travelled through Scottish airports in the year before Covid reached British shores.
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The capital airport’s chief executive, Gordon Dewar, said both the UK and Scottish Governments had imposed some of the toughest restrictions in Europe.
He said: “At the bottom of the curve, we were down at less than 1 percent of pre-pandemic levels of demand.”
Brian McClean, director of communications at the operator of Aberdeen and Glasgow airports AGS, added: “There were points . . . when you could fly to one country from England but not from Scotland.
“The only real winners were the likes of Manchester and Newcastle airports.
“I say it was the worst of both worlds because there was no public health benefit there.”