To inform the development of Scotland’s first ever Aviation Strategy, a consultation was launched in October 2021 inviting views on how the Scottish Government could best work with others to achieve its vision for aviation: “For Scotland to have national and international connectivity that allows us to enjoy all the economic and social benefits of air travel while reducing our environmental impact.”     

The consultation included 23 questions (21 open and 2 closed) which invited views across four main topics:

  • Transition to low and zero emission aviation - with the aim to reduce the environmental impact of aviation, in line with the Scottish Government’s commitment to be a net-zero nation by 2045 and for Scotland to benefit economically from the transition to low and zero emission aviation;
  • Scotland's international connectivity - aiming to help airports and airlines rebuild and grow Scotland’s international air connectivity following COVID-19 to support inbound tourism and sustainable economic growth, whilst reducing the environmental impact of aviation in line with the Scottish Government’s commitment to be a net-zero nation by 2045.  This includes achieving similar levels of global connectivity as leading peer nations and regions (e.g. Ireland and Catalonia) with the ultimate aim of being able to travel between Scotland and any major city in the world either directly or with, at most, only one stop. Such improvements in international connectivity support Scottish business and stimulate new markets for inbound tourism;
  • Scotland's domestic connectivity - the aim being, between Scotland and other parts of the UK, and within Scotland, to have low/zero emission air services that meet the needs of communities and help deliver sustainable economic growth.  This includes decarbonising scheduled passenger flights within Scotland by 2040 and having air services in the Highlands and Islands which provide good value for passengers and the tax payer; and
  • Air freight - aiming to help achieve the commitment in the National Transport Strategy to promote efficient and sustainable airfreight transport.

To help people answer these questions, Transport Scotland produced a discussion document, with background information on the areas covered by the consultation. The discussion document noted two cross-cutting challenges facing Scottish aviation: the impact of COVID-19 on airports and airlines, and meeting the Scottish Government’s target to deliver net-zero emissions by 2045. These targets include seeking to decarbonise scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040 and creating the world’s first zero emission aviation region by decarbonising airport operations and infrastructure across the Highlands and Islands.


The consultation opened on 18 October 2021 and closed on 21 January 2022 and was run mainly as an online exercise using Citizen Space, the Scottish Government’s online consultation platform. Responses received via Citizen Space were automatically collated into a database, downloadable to Excel to facilitate analysis. Some organisations opted to provide non-standard contributions by emailing written documents directly to the Scottish Government, which were manually added to the database for analysis.

Comments given in response to all open-ended questions were examined and where questions elicited a positive or negative response they were categorised as such. The main feedback both in support of and against the content included in the consultation was reviewed, alongside suggestions for alternative and/or additional content, caveats to support and other related comments. Verbatim quotes were extracted in some cases to highlight the main themes that emerged. Only extracts where respondents indicated that they were content for their response to be published were used and a decision was made to anonymise all responses as part of the reporting process.

Closed question responses were quantified and the number and percentage of respondents who agreed/disagreed with each proposal or question statement were summarised in table format.

A series of four virtual meetings with aviation stakeholders were also held during the consultation period, with each event focusing on separate, themed questions from the consultation. A total of 43 delegates, representing 32 different organisations, took part in the sessions (with some individuals attending more than one event). Findings from each event were written up (see Appendices A to D) and fed directly into the consultation analysis.

Respondent Profiles

A total of 93 valid responses were received to the online consultation - 38 from individuals and 55 from organisations, with a broad range of different organisations and interests represented across the sample. Only one respondent provided an invalid response (i.e. all responses were left blank) and this was removed for analysis purposes. All responses were allocated to respondent ‘types’ to allow any differences in the views expressed between groups to be explored.

Table 1 below shows the breakdown of the sample by type:

Table 1: Number and percentage of respondents by type
Respondent Type Number of respondents Percentage of respondents
Aerospace company (including representative bodies) 4 4%
Aviation and associated industries (including representative bodies) 18 19%
Business representative bodies 7 8%
Community Group 4 4%
Environmental NGOs / representative bodies 6 6%
Local Authority/Public body 5 5%
Third sector 1 1%
Transport Partnership 5 6%
Other 5 6%
Individuals 38 41%
Total 93 100%

Reporting Conventions and Caveats

All responses were screened to ensure that they were appropriate/valid. No organised campaign responses were received and there were no duplicate responses. While some organisational responses were very similar in content, indicating an element of collaboration in the submission process, none were duplicated in their entirety. All were also submitted on behalf of separate bodies and were therefore counted as discrete responses.

Throughout the feedback, there was some evidence of possible misinterpretation of questions, which is highlighted in the reporting where relevant. Although some responses did not directly address the questions being asked, all feedback was analysed and is presented under the appropriate sections below. It should also be noted that some respondents gave feedback in response to some questions that was more relevant to other parts of the discussion document and so the findings presented below should be considered as providing a holistic account of responses, rather than being linked exclusively to only the questions asked. Finally, some respondents did not answer the set questions directly and instead offered more general comments or observations, or provided detailed reports outlining their views in relation to aviation in Scotland. Again, the content of these was considered and relevant extracts are included in the most appropriate sections of the report.

Due to the small numbers of respondents overall (i.e. <100) some of the main themes to emerge (and which are reported below) relate to just small numbers of individual respondents in real terms. A thematic analysis approach was taken for all qualitative data submitted, rather than attempting to quantify and attribute open-ended data to codes. As a guide, however, and to provide an indication of the strength of feelings expressed, where reference is made in the report to ‘few’ respondents, this typically relates to fewer than 5 and the term ‘several’ refers to more than 5, but typically less than 10. Where the term ‘many’ is used, this relates to 10 or more responses - while this figure may seem low, it often represented a reasonable proportion of those who answered the questions being asked i.e. some questions attracted a response from only half of the overall sample.

Also, due to the relatively small sample overall, no attempt was made to analyse differences in the percentage of organisations versus individuals who agreed or disagreed with the closed questions.  Where there was a notable difference in the qualitative views presented by individuals and organisations to the open-ended questions (or by organisations of different ‘types’) this is noted in the report.  Similarly, differences in feedback given by online respondents and workshop participants are noted.

A small number of respondents, mainly individuals and environmental NGOs/representative bodies, also provided responses which reflected very specific environmental concerns/interests and which they repeated in response to all/most of the questions asked (i.e. that aviation should be discouraged, minimised or eradicated for both personal and business travel in the interests of meeting climate change aspirations). This means that there is some repetition in the findings presented below, however, in the interests of transparency and to demonstrate the full range of views that were offered in response to all questions, the data is included as it was presented and weighted in the context of overall feedback received.

Finally, it should be noted that some of those who took part in workshop discussions were attending as representatives of organisations that also submitted formal online consultation responses. While this may mean that there was duplication in some of the feedback received, especially relating to some organisations’ niche interests, care was taken in reporting not to double count feedback given by the same organisations using the two different response formats.

The remainder of this report presents the findings from the analysis.

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