Travellers arriving at Scottish airports face being “heavily penalised” compared to visitors to England due to the cost of coronavirus testing, aviation groups have warned.
Passengers arriving into the UK from permitted “amber” and “green” countries are required to be tested for Covid-19.
Those entering England are allowed to use test kits from private suppliers, but the Scottish Government’s rules require specific, fixed-price packages that industry bodies claim are much higher than other alternatives.
Under the four-nation traffic light system, travel to and from red list countries is banned but for a few specific exemptions, while travelling to amber countries is permitted but not encouraged and requires 10 days of self-isolation at home and two coronavirus tests.
Travellers returning from a country or territory on the green list will not need to quarantine, and will only be required to take one post-arrival coronavirus test.
The cost of the Government-approved testing in Scotland is £170 per person for amber-list and £88 per person for green-list countries.
Representatives from airline and airport groups are now calling on the Scottish Government to change the rules in an effort to stop passengers opting to fly into English airports instead.
Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, airport owner AGS and Edinburgh Airport have issued a joint statement from their chief executives that said: “On May 11, we were told the Scottish Government would adopt a four-nations approach to the removal of the travel ban which had brought our industry to a standstill.
“Within a matter of days, it transpired Scottish passengers would be heavily penalised by having to pay twice as much for Covid-19 tests than people in England.
“It is not fair that people in Scotland are being forced to bear such high costs when there are private suppliers offering the same tests that meet strict UK Government requirements for a fraction of the cost.
“This lack of parity with England will price many people out of travelling and will be a very real barrier to airports and airlines as we try to safely re-establish our connectivity.
“It will also push passengers to airports in England to avoid the cost of the Scottish Government’s testing package, meaning they would not receive any form of data.
“We urgently need the Government to review its guidelines and introduce an equitable testing system that doesn’t penalise Scottish passengers.
“We have offered to work with the Government and its clinicians to help identify an affordable solution.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We fully understand how difficult the restrictions on international travel are, both for the sector and for individuals who are keen to travel to see family, as well as for other important reasons.
“We are exploring options to allow the use of private sector tests, provided this can be done safely and we can be assured that there aren’t any issues with the flow of data from the testing provider to Public Health Scotland regarding test results, as well as the need for positive test results to be analysed for evidence of any variants of concern.
“The price of the NHS tests is set by the UK Government, and prices were recently reduced.”