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Aberdeen airport boss warns ‘piecemeal’ approach to quarantine puts jobs at risk

Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports.
Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports.

Aberdeen International Airport boss Derek Provan has warned jobs will be put at risk unless the four nations of the UK co-operate on the easing of quarantine restrictions.

Mr Provan said a “piecemeal” approach to the issue would have a “devastating impact” on the economy, amid a furious row between the Scottish and UK governments on the issue.

The row intensified when Nicola Sturgeon hit out at the UK Government’s “shambolic” approach to air bridges.

Earlier UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps earlier revealed quarantine restrictions for people returning to or visiting England from destinations such as Spain, France, Italy and Germany will be lifted from July 10.

UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Mr Provan suggested the exemptions should be adopted.

But Ms Sturgeon has accused the UK Government of changing the list of countries for which quarantine will not be necessary at the last moment.

The first minister criticised the “shifting sands” of the UK policy and accused UK ministers of failing to consult their Scottish counterparts properly.

The Scottish Government is making its own assessment of the UK Government’s list and will announce the results of that shortly.

Having a piecemeal approach will compound the devastating impact the blanket quarantine measures have had on our aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors. People are rightly concerned for their health, however, they’re also fearful for their jobs.”

Derek Provan of AGS Airports

But Mr Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, which owns and manages Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton airports, said: “Anything other than a four nations approach to the easing of the quarantine restrictions is going to put further jobs and livelihoods at risk.

“Having a piecemeal approach will compound the devastating impact the blanket quarantine measures have had on our aviation, tourism and hospitality sectors. People are rightly concerned for their health, however, they’re also fearful for their jobs.

“The introduction of these risk-based measures would allow us to strike the important balance of protecting public health while getting the country and our economy moving again.

“Adopting a different approach is going to do further damage to our aviation sector, which has already been buffeted by widespread job losses, and it will have wider, long-term implications on the ability of our economy to recover. This isn’t just about people being able to go on a summer holiday, it’s about safely re-establishing the routes that drive trade and investment.”

But at her daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: “I absolutely think that issues of economic impact, viability of airport and airlines and the aviation sector generally, of course, these are factors we have to take into a account in all of this.”

Ms Sturgeon added that she had a round-table discussion with aviation industry representatives including Mr Provan this week.

Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I absolutely understand, and make no criticism of them for this, that if you are the MD of an airport your prime consideration is the business that flows through your airport and the airlines that fly from your airport.

“That’s not an insignificant factor in my decision making, either, but as first minister I have got to take into account all of the issues that we need to get into the right balance. Right up there, for me, is public health. Are we taking decisions that are consistent with keeping the virus under control or could some of these decisions risk the virus running out of control again? I have to take into account all the different factors and try to reach the right balance.”

The first minister added: “Public health, absolutely. But the economic impact of all of these decisions is in there as well as part of the consideration.”

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