الخميس 18 شوال 1443هـ - 19-05-2022م

Fears and industry discontent… Scotland refuses to follow new travel procedures

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 21: People wait for arrivals at Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport in west London on December 21, 2020, as a string of countries around the world banned travellers arriving from the UK, due to the rapid spread of a new, more-infectious coronavirus strain. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to chair a crisis meeting Monday as a growing number of countries blocked flights from Britain over a new highly infectious coronavirus strain the UK said was "out of control". ( Kate Green - Anadolu Agency )

The Scottish Government has announced that it will not be adopting the easing of Covid tests for returning international passengers announced by the UK Government recently, due to “significant concerns” about the public health risk.

The reformed travel procedures announced by British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps included simplifications in both the “traffic light” system and required #covid tests. Scotland has said it will follow the new listing system, which is limited to red and green countries, but refuses to abandon the PCR tests.

The country will also follow suit in removing eight countries from the red list, starting at four o’clock in the morning of next Wednesday, September 22. Read here to learn more about the new travel procedures.

According to the Scotsman, Transport Minister Michael Matheson said the government aims to maintain a common approach between the four countries to international travel restrictions, but will need to consider carefully the risks associated with being aligned with the Government of England.

Meanwhile, the Scottish government said the number of countries open to travel for vaccinated travellers has been expanded from Europe and the USA to Canada, Australia, Israel and New Zealand from Oct. 4.

Implications for the travel sector

Edinburgh Airport expects Scottish passengers to now head across the border to save on covid testing costs.

A spokesman said that “we are now the most restrictive country in Europe, yet there is no justification or health benefit to retaining testing measures, something clinical professionals and experts have themselves said.”

“This is great news for airports in Manchester and Newcastle – passengers will now travel there to avoid expensive tests and save around £100 per person, taking money out of Scotland’s economy, threatening our airline capacity and costing jobs and livelihoods across the country,” he added.

Traffic light system ‘costly and confusing’

AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton, urged the Scottish Government to join UK Government in adopting the new rules.

Chief executive Derek Provan told the Scotsman: “The traffic light system was both costly and confusing. Not only did the data show it to be ineffective in terms of protecting public health or detecting variants of concern, but it has been extremely damaging to our industry which has been on the brink for the last 18 months.

Along the same lines, there has been calls to relax the covid testing in time for the mid-term school holiday, which starts in areas such as Glasgow on October 8.

“Airlines are now deciding and finalizing their winter schedules and capacity,” stressed Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee.  “That means every day of delay in the Scottish Government aligning with the rest of the UK will damage Scotland‘s connectivity and thus its economy.”

Price rise fear

Mike Owens, a global sales trader at investment bank Saxo Markets, said: “Airlines have been working hard to restore flight capacity, with Ryanair and Wizz having recently reached 2019 levels – this should help keep ticket prices low for the rest of the year.

“However, the industry is anticipating very strong demand for Easter and summer 2022, which could see the cost of travel rise, as he explained to the Scotsman.

 

Source: The Scotsman

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