Shetland could have much cheaper air fares if a successful campaign was mounted to exclude small airports from over-the-top anti-terrorist security measures.
The need for “fit for purpose” regulations is one of the early findings of a study into the future of air services in the Highlands and Islands which has found that expensive government restrictions applied at massive international hotspots like Heathrow result in crippling and unnecessary costs for small airports like Sumburgh.
The iniquitous regime was highlighted on Monday by aviation consultant Laurie Price of Mott MacDonald who has been hired by the Shetland transport agency ZetTrans and its Highland counterpart Hitrans to analyse air service needs from now to 2022 and help draw up a strategy to bring about the improvements.
He said other countries, such as France and Norway, practice much lighter security controls on island air travel and impose fewer safety restrictions than the Civil Aviation Authority on the use of single-engined aircraft which could be suitable for use in the Highlands and Islands.
Even in the UK there is not the same high level of anti-terrorism restrictions on other major parts of the transport system, he said, such as the trains using the Channel Tunnel. He said proper risk assessments were needed for airports like those in the Highlands and Islands.
Another key issue which Mr Price highlighted during his presentation was the need for the Scottish government to call for the abolition of the air passenger duty north of the border and for a uniform price across the country for kerosene instead of airlines incurring up to twice the price at rural airports.