Coronavirus flights: Scotland keeps some airports open to maintain vital services amid loc

As coronavirus send the world into lockdown, airport closures have become rife, and airlines are struggling to stay afloat for the future. Airports including Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester have all taken extreme measures to close terminals and runways due to the sudden drop in traffic.

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Meanwhile, airlines including British Airways, easyJet and Virgin have been forced to furlough and lay off staff.

Yet despite the government’s “stay home” instructions, several airports across Scotland remain open for a vital purpose.

Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and some Highlands and Islands airports will remain open serving passenger flights, though on a drastically reduced schedule.

In Aberdeen, the airport remains open with a purpose of serving essential services, with a particular focus on connectivity for remote Highlands and Islands communities.

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Coronavirus flights: Scotland’s airports remain open for vital reasons (Image: Getty Images)Edinburgh remains one of Scotland’s main repatriation hubs, though it reports being 85 percent down on passenger traffic (Image: Getty Images)

NHS and air ambulance services will use the airport as one of their Scottish bases, and helicopters will also fly in and out for oil and gas industry workers.

Though airport bosses say figures have dropped “from 10,000 people a day to 86” it remains one of the region’s busiest airports.

Managing Director Steve Szalay told the BBC: “Most people have got to where they need to be by now, so it is about keeping the vital link open for the oil and gas workers, air ambulances and medical flights where people have to come in from the highlands and islands.”

Though the airport remains open with some staff serving the vital services, around 40 staff have been put into furlough.

Edinburgh remains one of Scotland’s main repatriation hubs, though it reports being 85 percent down on passenger traffic compared with the same time last year.

Just eight flights departed from and arrived into the airport on Tuesday.

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As part of the repatriation effort airlines including British Airways, Ryanair, Qatar Airways, KLM and Wizz Air continue to serve the airport.

A number of staff have been cut from the airport and only essential areas remain open.

Similarly, Glasgow airport is also supporting repatriation efforts.

It is also running shorter routes to Heathrow, Amsterdam Schipol and Dublin., served by British Airways, Aer Lingus, Ryanair and KLM.

Loganair is using the airport for its lifeline highlands and islands services.

The Scottish Air Ambulance is also utilising Glasgow airport as a base.

Glasgow remains open as part of a repatriation effort (Image: Getty Images)

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Smaller airports making up the Highland and Islands Airports are now operating on a “skeleton schedule” closing terminals for general aviation traffic. Instead, they are now offering a lifeline for Transport Scotland, Loganair, NHS passenger transfer, and Royal Mail.

The airports will continue to provide services for key workers in the oil and gas industry.

Prestwick Airport, in Ayrshire, is now completely closed to all passenger flights.

It will serve solely as a base for cargo and freight.

Similar ripples are being felt throughout the UK’s airports.

London Heathrow Airport has decided to close one of its runways next week, operating landings and takeoffs from one runway from April 6.

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The airport has also decided to only open its runway for scheduled flights in an eight-hour window between 2 pm and 10 pm.

A spokesman for Heathrow Airport said that they will alternate between the airport’s two runways on a weekly basis.

He added: “Although we are seeing significantly fewer flights at the moment, Heathrow will remain open so that we can continue to play a crucial role in helping to secure vital medical goods and food for the nation during this unprecedented epidemic.”

It’s a devastating blow for the international hub which served 80.1 million passengers in 2018.

Meanwhile, London’s second airport, Gatwick, has temporarily closed its North terminal.

Similarly, Manchester Airport has such terminals 2 and 3 “until further notice”.

The UK government continues to advise Britons to avoid all but essential travel.