Key Scottish air routes targeted for resumption

Ministers could provide extra support to airlines for restoring flights as Edinburgh to New York and Doha lined up for re-start.

Qatar Airways is planning to resume Edinburgh-Doha flights.
Qatar Airways is planning to resume Edinburgh-Doha flights.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs today that key international air routes from Scotland were being identified as priorities for flights resuming.

He said they would include links to hub airports where passengers change planes, and to North America.

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Hubs served from Scotland where flights are currently suspended include Frankfurt and Istanbul, and Dubai and Doha in the Middle East.

Ryanair has announced plans to resume 83 Scottish routes from late June onwards.

Mr Matheson said such routes could be the target of route development work to try to re-establish them “as quickly as possible”.

But he warned the Scottish Parliament’s connectivity committee that aviation “will be a very challenging area for an extended period of time”.

Mr Matheson also said the impact of the UK Government's planned 14-day quarantine restrictions for arriving passengers was still far from clear.

He said it had been unable to say whether passengers travelling to Scotland via another UK airport like Heathrow would be quarantined there or on arrival in Scotland.

He said the Scottish Government had not been formally consulted over the plans but had been made aware of them several days before they were announced at the weekend.

Qatar Airways has notified the aviation industry it intends to resume Edinburgh-Doha flights on 1 June, but it has not been confirmed.

The previously daily service would operate three times a week before increasing to four from 1 July and five from 1 August.

Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “Our airline has implemented industry-leading hygiene practices and commercial policies enabling our passengers to book and travel with confidence.

“We have built a strong level of trust with passengers, governments, trade and airports as a reliable partner during this crisis and we intend to continue delivering on this mission as we gradually expand our network.”

Delta Airlines has also notified the industry of the potential resumption of daily Edinburgh-New York JFK flights from 2 July.

However, a spokesperson for the carrier told The Scotsman: “We are continuing to evaluate our network plans for the months ahead and will adjust as needed based on demand, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and government travel restrictions.

British Airways is still operating some flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow to its Heathrow hub, KLM between the cities and its Amsterdam hub, and Air France between Edinburgh and its Paris hub.

Ryanair announced yesterday it hoped to restart 40 per cent of its flights by the start of July, including 83 routes from Scotland.

A spokesperson for Edinburgh Airport said: "We stand ready to facilitate travel when required and our operations team is planning for various scenarios.

“The situation remains fluid and we continue to speak to our airline partners to understand their plans, and we will react accordingly.”

A spokesperson for AGS Airports, which includes Aberdeen and Glasgow, said: “We’re working with all of our airline partners to restore connectivity when it’s possible to do so.”

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