The SPAA has warned Scotland’s travel industry could become “extinct” if the country’s government continues to delay a decision on the introduction of air bridges.

The warning came after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was not prepared to “rubber stamp” the UK government’s safe travel list, published last Friday.

Sturgeon said she “understood the impatience” of the public, aviation and tourism industries, but insisted a process of “analysis and assessment” needed to be completed before a decision could be made.

Joanne Dooey, SPAA president (pictured), said: “We don’t want Scotland’s entire travel industry to become extinct, but this is a serious risk that the sector is currently facing.

“We cannot understand why scientific advice for one part of the UK means that English travellers departing from English airports are safe to travel to the ‘green list’ of over 50 countries but it’s not safe for Scots to do so from Scottish airports.”

She added: “It should be remembered that we’re not just talking about family holidays to the sun this summer. We’re looking at Scotland’s ability to retain a strong, global trading economy. Business travel is crucial to that, and so is freight traffic.

“In staff terms it is not just about a sales assistant in the high street travel agent who makes your travel arrangements; there’s a huge hidden workforce in travel with all the homeworkers which the sector relies on.

“There are ground handlers, baggage handlers, retail staff, taxi drivers and airport hotels to consider. Edinburgh Airport alone gives employment to 7,000 individuals.”

Dooey said: “Without a robust outbound travel sector, we have a far poorer inbound travel sector. If we can’t get to other countries, then their travellers can’t get to us either – and it’s widely acknowledged that our own Scottish tourism sector has been brought to its knees by the pandemic.

“How is Scotland’s hospitality sector going to recover if we have lost all of our flights in and out of the country?”