Edinburgh Airport boss blasts Humza Yousaf and warns of 'dark days ahead' due to 'effective travel ban'

Airport boss Gordon Dewar has criticised the Scottish Government’s attitude towards the aviation industry.

Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd September 2020, 12:08 pm
Edinburgh Airport has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic
Edinburgh Airport has been hit by the Covid-19 pandemic

Scotland’s quarantine policy has been blasted as “ineffective and unworkable” and will be the cause of “incredibly dark days ahead” for the aviation industry by Edinburgh Airport’s chief executive in an excoriating open letter to justice secretary Humza Yousaf.

In the letter Gordon Dewar, the airport’s chief executive, launches a fierce rebuttal to comments from Mr Yousaf who said “we can bring the economy back to life, we just can’t bring people back to life.”

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Mr Dewar labels the comments “unhelpful” and slammed Mr Yousaf for side-stepping and ignoring requests for discussion, and argues the Scottish Government’s plans to offer jobs to help rebuild won’t work if “you can’t guarantee anyone access to jobs that don’t exist”.

Edinburgh Airport's chief executive Gordon Dewar has criticised justice secretary Humza Yousaf's attitude to the aviation sector

He adds that it was one of the “toughest experiences” of his career to make 250 staff redundant at the airport, and it is understood the company is concerned that business may not return to Scotland if policy decisions continue to be made in the same manner as in recent months.

The letter also says the Scottish Government is making decisions which will have an “enduring impact” on the aviation sector, and follows comments from Derek Provan, chief executive of ASG Airports which runs Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton who said the government was “overseeing the demise of UK aviation”.

Mr Dewar writes: “I am sorry that you felt that such a comparison was appropriate. No-one in aviation has advocated trading lives for the economy, and it is unhelpful to be using anyone’s loss to make a political point that side-steps or ignores our open request for engagement in seeking better policies.

“A quarantine policy that is a travel ban in all but name makes this incredibly difficult, if not impossible. It is ineffective and unworkable as your own figures show and it is having a damning impact on a range of industries.

"If this is the path the Scottish Government is to continue down then there are some incredibly dark days ahead. I only have to look at my own business to see the real impact it is having. Saying goodbye to 250 colleagues through no fault of their own was one of the toughest experiences in my career. I don’t want others to have to do the same.

“Decisions taken now will have an enduring impact on the many quality jobs our industry supports up and down the country, and – if those are too cautious and short-sighted decisions, will significantly undermine the county’s future connectivity and competitiveness.”

“The aviation and travel industries are not too big to fall. If the Scottish Government position remains as it stands, you are putting tens of thousands of jobs at risk in aviation the next few months alone. The knock-on risks to our tourism sector are even more profound and we would hope you might reflect carefully on our concerns and respond accordingly.

“We urge you to reconsider your approach and work with us to find a way to protect public health and rebuild our economy. It is in Scotland’s best interest to do both.”

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