Call for policy change
Labour joins call for airport testing to avoid jobs cull
Glasgow airport check-in area pictured on 3 September
Scottish Labour has joined calls for passengers arriving at airports to be tested for Covid-19 instead of being put into quarantine as part of a strategy to save the aviation industry.
Transport spokesman Colin Smyth will lead a debate at Holyrood today and will warn that a change of government policy is needed to avoid huge job losses.
The Fraser of Allander Institute has predicted that proposed cuts in the Scottish civil aviation and aerospace engineering sectors may cause the loss of about 5,000 jobs in Scotland.
The Scottish Tories have already called for testing to be introduced at airports. Tory MSP Graham Simpson supported Scottish airport bosses calling for testing to be introduced, even though the UK government is opposed to the idea, arguing that it is not effective in controlling the virus.
Mr Smyth said: “Scotland’s aviation sector is among the industries hit the hardest by Covid-19, with many jobs already lost.
“This will have a knock-on effect on our tourism sector in the short and long terms, and we simply can’t afford to stand by.”
“That is why Scottish Labour is calling the Scottish Government to work with the aviation sector and the relevant Trade Unions in Scotland to agree on a specific package of support for the industry.
“We are also calling for an urgent review of the existing quarantine system, which is clearly not fit for purpose. It’s time for the Scottish Government to introduce a robust regime of airport testing on arrival – with follow up testing at home.”
UK ministers have said they will set out an “aviation recovery plan” this autumn outlining how to get the sector back on track.
The government was responding to a report by the UK Parliament Transport Select Committee in which MPs expressed concern about the “lack of detail and pace of action” towards the industry.
BA boss says airline in fight for survival
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz said the airline was running at 25 to 30% of its normal flight schedule, and urged the government to bring in a COVID-19 testing regime to shorten 14-day quarantine rules and get people travelling again.
“We’re still fighting for our own survival,” Mr Cruz told a parliamentary committee hearing today.
“We are taking every measure possible to make sure we can actually make it through this winter.”
Cruz said a return to flying had been hampered by the weekly changes to quarantine rules. A two-stage testing system, where passengers are tested on arrival and five days later could remove the need for 14-day quarantines, he said.
Scottish Labour’s motion was defeated in parliament.
Mr Smyth said: “It is deeply disappointing that the Scottish Parliament, including the SNP, failed to back Scotland’s aviation sector and the workers it employs.
“Make no mistake, the challenges that our aviation sector faces are substantial and without action thousands of jobs are at risk.
“The aviation sector deserves a Scottish Government that will stand up for it and its workers: today the SNP failed to do so. The workers employed in the sector deserve so much better than they have had today.
“Scottish Labour will continue to fight for the future of our aviation sector and will do all it can to retain and protect the thousands of jobs that the sector sustains.”