Covid Scotland: EasyJet cancels planned routes between Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester Airport amid row over coronavirus travel restrictions
EasyJet has cancelled a planned route between Aberdeen Airport and Manchester, citing restrictions imposed on travel to the region by the Scottish Government.
The route was scheduled to start on July 9 and run four times a week.
A spokesperson for easyJet said: “Following the Scottish Government's announcement that non-essential travel between Scotland and Manchester is currently not permitted, unfortunately we are no longer able to operate our planned new routes connecting Edinburgh and Aberdeen with Manchester.”
They said customers due to travel of affected flights would be notified of the cancellation and “informed of their options” - including transferring their trip to an alternative destination on easyJet’s network or to a later date free of charge.
Customers will also be able receive a voucher or refund for the entire value of their booking. They added: “We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused by the latest news and cancellations."
It is understood that easyJet will reassess the viability of both routes when there is greater clarity on when the travel restrictions will end.
Mark Beveridge, Operations Director at Aberdeen International Airport, called the news “hugely disappointing”.
“We can’t continue like this,” he said, “and urgently need help and a plan that sets out how we can work towards the safe restart of travel.”
The route cancellations come as the travel industry holds protests in London, Edinburgh and Belfast, calling for more government support for the sector’s recovery.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Edinburgh Airport said: “The Scottish Government will by now understand that its decisions have economic consequences that need to be considered.
“Today’s day of protest at Holyrood by the travel industry underlines the severity of issues it faces.
"We’re not sure that imposing unenforceable regulations that impact on the recovery of that industry is what we need right now.”
The decision comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that non-essential travel between Scotland and Manchester and Scotland and Salford would be banned from Monday.
Citing the relatively high infection rate in the region, Ms Sturgeon said the restrictions would be in place "no longer than is absolutely necessary".
But the decision sparked a row between the Scottish Government and the Labour Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
Mr Burnham claimed the decision was "announced out of the blue" and was "completely disproportionate".
He told BBC Radio Scotland's Drivetime: "The UK government has called me when they were making changes affecting Greater Manchester.
“I think the first minister should have extended us the same courtesy.”
He also questioned why the travel ban affects residents of Bolton, where the latest seven-day case rate was 257 per 100,000 people - but not residents in Dundee, where the figure up to June 18 was 303.4.
In a letter to Ms Sturgeon, the Mayor asked the Scottish government to compensate local people who had planned to travel to Scotland, as well as businesses that could lose bookings.
On Tuesday, the First Minister responded, telling MSPs: “I have always got on well with Andy Burnham. If he wants a grown-up conversation he only has to pick up the phone.
"But if, as I suspect might be the case, this is more about getting into a spat with me as part of a some positioning in a Labour leadership contest of the future, then I am not interested.
"Back in May we imposed travel restrictions on Bolton for exactly the same reasons we are now doing it on Manchester," she said.
"Andy Burnham is mayor of Bolton as well and he did not raise any of these issues then."
Loganair is currently still offering flights between Scottish airports and Manchester.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We have no plans to cancel our operating of routes between Aberdeen and Inverness to Manchester.
"Loganair is committed to serving both routes and will continue to provide flights for essential travel, and also for leisure purposes when the current restrictions are lifted.”
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.
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