Sustainable future for aviation should be key in Scottish Government’s policies for travel recovery

Dr Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce

POLICIES which support sustainable growth in aviation should be at the heart of the Scottish Government’s plan for supporting the recovery of the Scottish travel industry.

Recommendations for how this should be achieved will be presented to the Scottish Government in a wide-ranging report on The Recovery of Sustainable Aviation, Travel & Tourism in Scotland by the Aviation Cross Party Group (Aviation CPG). The Aviation CPG, which was established before the Covid pandemic has worked together to present a bold, forward-thinking strategy to protect Scotland’s reputation, position and influence on a global scale and regrow its vital connectivity, support the industry’s ongoing efforts to balance the undoubted economic and social benefits of aviation with its climate change responsibilities.

The report calls for the creation of a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) industry in Scotland, supported by the Scottish Government and financially supported by the Scottish National Investment Bank. It also calls for investment in research and development of zero emission flight technology and grant funding to allow airports to prepare infrastructure to support hydrogen and electric flight. Additional investment in zero emission flight technology and support for delivering the target of at least 10% SAF use by 2030 should be supported by ringfencing the significant funds paid by airlines into the UK Emissions Trading Scheme.

A fresh review of the support available for new routes should aim to bring about a more targeted flexible support for new routes with marketing, spend and investment, to support the Scottish Aviation sector and Scottish Businesses. The report also seeks support for high street retail travel businesses and stimulating the interest in careers within the sector, including the removal of VAT on pilot training, allowing more flexible use of the apprenticeship levy for training and facilitating overseas work visas for essential crew and ground staff.

The Aviation CPG comprises UK and Scottish organisations including representation from Scotland’s Airports and the Airport Operators’ Association, international airlines and Airlines UK, ABTA, the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), Barrhead Travel, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, outbound Scottish leisure tour operators, UKinbound and NATS. The report covers devolved elements of travel and highlights that a four nations approach to the industry is vital.

Aviation CPG co-convenors Graham Simpson MSP and Paul McLennan MSP said: “Outbound and inbound travel are crucial enablers for the whole Scottish economy. Domestic and international connectivity opens markets for Scottish businesses – bringing economic benefits and inward investment. Aviation provides essential connectivity for exporters, inward investors, and all business travellers.

“Travel is only in the early stages of recovery post pandemic and through this report, we are seeking assurances and firm, funded policies which ensure that Scotland’s aviation sector is strengthened.

“Our international links, be they travel, trade, investment or education, are essential and aviation is vital to all these.”

Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Director & Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce said:

“Aviation is a major contributor to global economic prosperity. The sector is unmatched in its role in connecting economies, people, and cultures which drives economic growth, job creation and exports.

“Scotland’s aviation sector has weathered recent crises and is emerging stronger, demonstrating the long-term resilience of its businesses and people. Looking ahead, the industry needs unequivocal political support which champions the sector’s growth potential and its critical position in driving Scotland’s economic success. The business community stands ready to work in partnership with the Scottish and UK Governments to transform these recommendations into reality.”

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