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Brexit has negatively impacted safety of west coast aviation services – Gilruth

Brexit has been blamed for delays and cancellations at west coast airports including Barra (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Brexit has been blamed for delays and cancellations at west coast airports including Barra (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Brexit has impacted the performance and safety of “lifeline” aviation services on Scotland’s west coast, Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth has warned.

In a letter to the UK Government, Ms Gilruth has urged the UK Government to address the issue after key flights to and from Cambeltown, Tiree and Barra have deteriorated.

The UK Government’s withdrawal from the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) has been blamed for the decline.

The European service helped enable the safe operation of flights in challenging conditions where they could not operate previously due to poor visibility caused by the region’s weather conditions.

Ms Gilruth said: “These lifeline air services provide a vital link for some of our most remote communities on the west coast, so it’s hugely frustrating that their performance is being impacted as a direct result of Brexit.

“This issue has been raised with me during my meetings with local representatives and I’ve also met with Loganair, who told me the removal of access to EGNOS has led to a doubling of cancellations at our two worst affected airports, Tiree and Barra.

“Safety cannot be compromised, so even though decisions to cancel flights are frustrating, it’s the right thing to do.

“We would have greater safety, confidence and reliability if Scotland and the UK retained access to this system.

“If the UK Government won’t reconsider its position on this matter, they need to outline what action they are planning to address the issue – noting the clear negative impact it is having on our island communities.”

A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “Air safety is our top priority and the removal of the EGNOS-related air navigation procedures should not have a significant impact on the safe operation of flights, due to the other safety procedures in place.

“We are investing millions of pounds into exploring a range of potential replacement services, and will set out our next steps in due course.”