THE air industry has called for urgent talks with the Scottish Government over testing after warning that the current quarantine measures are killing their industry.

A spokesperson for Glasgow Airport has told the Sunday National: “We are facing the worst crisis in our history, 92% down on passengers since last year.

“And thousands of jobs are being lost across aviation and the airports. There are tens of thousands of people employed, with 5500 across Glasgow Airport and we’re also talking about those who work in shops and related industries around the airport.

“60% of flights in the summer go out to Spain.

“Yes, we knew this would happen and you could see that in the spikes, and it is a very difficult decision.

“This was the right decision, but at the wrong time. They should have done this at the beginning.

“It’s not like a light switch that we can switch on or off. We have slots to fill and airlines such as Jet2 and TUI have had to cancel flights.

“And all of this has happened just as we were beginning to see green shoots.

“Blanket quarantine isn’t working and we want to speak to the Government to find the best process for a robust testing process. We need the government input on this.”

Travellers were told on Saturday of last week that they would have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return from Spain.

It was a decision Scotland’s Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said was taken on a “four-nation basis” and he acknowledged that it was “frustrating and disappointing” for tourists.

He said: “The reason is very much based on the public health data we received on Saturday from the UK Government that showed a deeply alarming trend in Spain.

“In the space of a week, from July 17 to July 24, we saw cases in Spain almost double from 5700 to 11,000.’

While other countries have been implementing their own testing, with Iceland offering a choice of two-week self-isolation or a test, some German airports operating voluntary and free testing and France enforcing mandatory testing, the UK has not followed suit as yet.

There have been concerns though over the testing because the virus does not always show up immediately and travellers could be cleared only to develop symptoms days later.

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Professor Linda Bauld, the Bruce and John Usher chair of Public Health at the Usher Institute at Edinburgh University, believes though that a combined approach of quarantine and testing is the way forward.

“Quarantine is a very blunt instrument. Other countries have been airport testing and we’re going to have to have that if we want international travel.

“And the quarantine with Spain was understandably very frustrating as the communication was so poor.

“I don’t think it is helpful either to talk about a second wave. There is a threat of more cases, not a second wave, because we are still in the first wave with clusters in England and smaller spikes, and in Scotland.

“For there to be a second wave you would be talking about having a large number of cases then going to very few cases and then back to a large number after a period of six months.”

There has been much talk in Westminster circles of airport testing not being “the silver bullet” solution.

BAULD believes that more testing, not none at all, is the answer. “It may be that we will have to test before and also have a test a few days later,” she said.

“There is another problem too with quarantine in that you have to stick with it, and we have seen it in Melbourne, and with Americans not doing it in Ireland. If it works, it works well.”

The cost of airport testing has also been raised.

And Bauld issued a cautionary warning when she said: “Airport testing is a big logistical operation and I do not see it happening quickly ... particularly if it is not up and running in other sectors such as the NHS where it is the first priority.”

For Glasgow Airport, and the travel industry at large, airport testing cannot come quickly enough, though they believe that airports could have testing up and running within a couple of weeks.

“We must work together to develop the best system. There are tests where you can get the results in three minutes, three hours, three days with varying costs.

“Customers who have been asked are saying different things about whether they would pay the extra costs but our point is that let’s find the test before the cost lands on the market.

“The economic impact to the country here is huge. It’s about travel but also about export and import industry too.

“Our industry is worth £1.44 billion to the Scottish economy annually but this is putting jobs more and more at risk every day.”

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The effect of the lightning quarantine has also heightened concerns for workers, those who have arrived home, who now face a two-week self-isolation and a possible loss of earnings, and those still to get back.

And the Scottish Trades Union Council has urged employers to put their workers’ interests first.

“The majority of employers over this crisis have been doing the right thing while the minority don’t.

“We would urge employers to pay the full sick leave as opposed to the statutory sick pay.

“And it should be clear that nobody is being pressured into ignoring isolation as has happened in a minority of cases in lockdown.

“Now that we’re moving into another phase of furlough with new employers’ contribution, we have multiple reports of employers starting to look at redundancy packages.

“We would expect that people wouldn’t be discriminated against because they have been in furlough.

“And with the quarantine, if anyone is forced to take unpaid leave because they have been following the public health guidelines and are in that respect off sick, we would urge them to contact their trade union.”