By Lucy Ashton

The Scottish Government must act to support Scotland’s airports and develop new routes so that they can unlock the economic potential of the nation, Anas Sarwar has said today.

Speaking ahead of a visit to Glasgow Airport on Tuesday, the Scottish Labour leader accused the SNP of ‘sitting on its hands’ while Scotland’s airports and the communities that they serve struggle.

Glasgow Airport has confirmed that it is still only running at 86% of its pre-covid capacity and in recent years Glasgow Airport has lost vital connections to North America and other economic hubs, leaving Scotland’s largest city with poor connections to global businesses.

A 2017 report from Airlines UK and the ABTA showed that all of Scotland lagging far behind in global air connectivity, ranking 10th out of 11 similarly sized European countries.

Industry leaders across Scotland have called for a focus on route development in order to bring investment into Scotland and to boost the country’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

Scottish Labour has said that this decline was a symptom of the SNP’s record of “managed decline and economic failure” and has demanded action to put aviation and route development at the centre of Scotland’s economic recovery.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “Scotland’s airports are the gateway to our economy, but years of government failure has pushed them to breaking point.

“This damaging drop in connectivity in Glasgow and across Scotland is consistent with the SNP’s record in government – one of managed decline and economic failure.

“The SNP is choking off Scotland’s potential by letting our connectivity collapse.

“Without a focus on route development connecting Scotland to the rest of the world, our tourism and hospitality sectors risk declining.

“It’s all too clear that SNP inaction is holding Scotland back and disconnecting Scotland from the rest of the world. We need to sell Brand Scotland to the world, not turn our backs to the opportunities that exist.

“Our airports are key to us unleashing our economic potential and taking our place on the world stage – we urgently need a plan to get them back on track.”

  • According to Glasgow Airport, it is currently running at approximately 86% of its 2019 capacity.
  • Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Scotland’s connectivity was lagging behind other nations. A report carried out by Airlines UK and ABTA in 2017 bench-marked Scotland’s aviation connectivity against that of other similar sized European countries.
  • Out of the 11 nations considered, Scotland ranked 10th in terms of countries served and 9th in terms of destinations. One of the key findings stated: “Despite having the eighth largest population of the 11 countries, Scotland generally ranks 10th in terms of connectivity – ahead of only Iceland (with a population 1/20th the size of Scotland’s). Ireland and Norway are smaller in terms of population but have measurably greater connectivity than Scotland.” 

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