UK government ‘does not recognize Scottish airports’

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The Scottish Affairs Committee has complained about the UK government’s response to its report on airports.

In his response to the Airports in Scotland document, Westminster failed to mention “Scotland” once and said it would not offer financial support for the final phase of the airspace modernization programme.

The committee stressed that air travel is a lifeline for many people across Scotland, particularly in remote areas, but the UK government has failed to address concerns that too many air routes have been lost during covid-19.

To encourage greener travel routes, in line with the UK government’s commitment to net zero, the response confirms that the Jet Zero strategy will be released later this year.

Committee members raised concerns about the lack of a joint approach among decentralized nations and the timelines of pandemic travel restrictions. However, rather than address this specific concern, the UK government explains the importance of effective work and has not outlined any measures to review communications around the pandemic.

The UK government has also failed to act on the committee’s recommendation that ministers should consider how money from air passenger tax could be used for environmental purposes.

Scottish Affairs Committee Chairman Pete Wishart said: ‘I have a glaring question to the UK Government regarding their response: what about Scotland?

“We have been very clear in our report that Scottish airports have been badly affected by the pandemic, but many Scottish airports have maintained flights for urgent medical and food supplies and to get our essential workers working.

“In its response, the government refuses to support the airport sector with financial support for modernization, which could significantly benefit travelers and the environment, and has also provided no commitment to improve dialogue with decentralized nations on travel restrictions.

“It is clear that there is a complete lack of ambition on the part of the UK government to support any positive change for airports in Scotland.”

The difficulties faced by airlines and airports over the Jubilee bank holiday weekend have arisen since the report was considered. The committee said it might choose to come back to this issue in due course.

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