A north-east MSP has accused the first minister of turning her back on Aberdeen Airport following staff redundancies.
Around 400 staff members, including check-in staff, baggage handlers, retail and security, have been made redundant during the pandemic.
At first minister’s questions, North East Conservative MSP Douglas Lumsden said more has to be done to safeguard airport jobs.
He told parliament: “At the Commons Select Committee this week, we heard that 400 jobs has been lost at Aberdeen Airport since the start of the pandemic.
“Can the first minister outline what support the Scottish Government will give to our airports or is this another industry that the first minister has turned her back on?”
In response, Nicola Sturgeon acknowledged the aviation industry had been hit hard by the pandemic and said the government had already given “additional support” with business rates relief extended.
‘Devastating for the north-east’
Mr Lumsden warned more airport staff are at risk of losing their jobs and “specific” support is needed.
He added: “The shocking number of redundancies at Aberdeen Airport throughout the pandemic should ring alarm bells with the Scottish Government.
“Aberdeen Airport has missed out on any potential recovery that could have been over the last few months.
“The SNP are continually too late in listening to the aviation industry, putting jobs and livelihoods at risk.
“Going forward, the Scottish Government must listen to those in the tourism and travel industry to ensure their recovery is as smooth as possible as we progress towards the summer.
“But unless specific sector support is given by the SNP, there is a risk more jobs will be lost at airports such as Aberdeen during this pandemic which would be devastating for the north-east.”
Sector at ‘risk of collapse’
Earlier this week, Brian McLean, from AGS Airports, claimed there had been a lack of sector support.
He highlighted that Aberdeen Airport carried 1.1 million passengers last year, compared to 3.3 million in 2019.
Further, he said the the business rates relief from the government was “not enough” and that passenger confidence is hit every time new restrictions are put in place.
The north-east airport has remained operational throughout the pandemic but with a significantly reduced service.
Within six months, hundreds of jobs were at risk and Unite union warned that the sector was on the “brink of collapse”.
Aberdeen International Airport declined to comment.