11 May 2010

Island air routes

Measures to minimise disruption to lifeline island air services in Scotland have been agreed by NATS and airline operators.

New arrangements have been put in place to minimise delays caused by the increased volume of international flights using Scottish airspace to avoid volcanic ash clouds in the North Atlantic. Island flights will now be able to operate at lower levels giving operators more options to provide vital services.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson said:

"Scotland's lifeline air services provide vital links, supporting employment, education and social activities. The pragmatic approach now agreed with NATS and airline operators will help to minimise disruption and bring greater resilience to these critical services as we seek to respond to the continuing challenges caused by volcanic ash.

"While Met Office advice presented to today's meeting of the Cabinet's Resilience Sub-Committee indicated an improving picture for the next couple of days, the situation remains volatile. Ministers will continue to monitor the situation closely and the advice to passengers remains to check with airlines before travelling."

Ongoing analysis of dust samples by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) demonstrates there is no present risk to human health. The Health Protection Agency advise those with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, to keep medication to hand when outdoors.

Environmental monitoring is continuing, using information from the network of 75 air monitoring sites and 25 radioactivity monitoring sites across Scotland.

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