Scotland's international connectivity

Scotland's international connectivity


This section of the discussion document seeks your views on the international connectivity that will be needed to support sustainable, inclusive economic growth in Scotland (one of the four priorities in the National Transport Strategy) and how we can work with others to achieve this. This includes how aviation can contribute to achieving our vision to be the world leader in 21st century tourism and help to deliver our plan for growing Scotland's exports. It is an opportunity to put forward your ideas for how we can do things differently, considering the future challenges and opportunities.

This section also covers how we can help rebuild Scotland's connectivity whilst reducing the environmental impacts of aviation, contributing to the "takes climate action" priority of the National Transport Strategy and achieving the target of net-zero emissions by 2045 set out in the Climate Change Act. This target includes emissions from both domestic and international aviation. For more information about Scotland's connectivity pre-COVID and the economic, social and environmental impact of aviation see Context.


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.

How to achieve this aim

Partnership Approach

Transport Scotland, Scottish Development International, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and VisitScotland work in close partnership to provide support to airlines, which can be instrumental to an airline deciding to start a new route. This approach benefits from working closely with Scotland's airports.

We take a 'national perspective' on all air route development propositions. We work in equal partnership with airports, in a confidential manner, to share intelligence on route priorities; and enter long-term relationship engagement/development with airlines to promote Scotland. The support we offer to airlines is tailored to the route(s) in question and can take the form of attractive cooperative marketing packages and/or market intelligence and data to airlines on the potential of the Scottish market. Additional support can be offered for airlines that are considering the establishment of base operations in Scotland, in view of the direct economic benefits, including job creation, that come with such a development.

We have had a successful partnership with Scotland's airports in recent years helping secure many new routes and demonstrating that our support is having a positive impact. For example, Munich to Edinburgh (Eurowings), New York JFK to Glasgow (Delta) and Amsterdam to Inverness (KLM) are all routes that 'Team Scotland' has helped to support. These three routes alone generate a net economic impact of £13.4 million a year[7] and support 215 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. This work has helped Scotland to achieve similar levels of connectivity as peer regions, although Scotland still has fewer unique destinations than leading peer regions.[8]

Case Study – World Routes

World Routes is a key aviation event that Transport Scotland, Scottish Development International and VisitScotland attend to support the efforts of Scotland's airports in developing Scotland's connectivity.

This event brings together all the key players, allowing us to effectively promote the potential of the Scottish market and meet with different airlines to discuss both new and existing routes to Scotland that are important for inbound tourism and business.

4. Considering future challenges and opportunities, what changes, if any, should we make to our approach to help achieve our aim for international connectivity?

Priority countries

So that our work is as effective as possible at helping to rebuild Scotland's air connectivity to support business and tourism, we have drawn up an initial list of priority countries. This list (see the table below) is based on the priority counties identified in Scotland: A Trading Nation, as well as data and projections on international visitors to Scotland, foreign direct investments, international students and research collaborations. For more details see Annex B. We would like your views on this list to make sure these are the right countries to target.

Trying to secure good connectivity to the priority countries will be the focus of our future work, but this is not an exhaustive list. We will also consider support for other routes provided they fit with our aim of supporting business and tourism in Scotland. A key aspect of our route development work is forward planning, but retaining flexibility to allow us to exploit new opportunity that arise.

Table 1: Priority Countries for Short and Long Haul Air Travel


Short haul

Long haul































5. Do you agree with the priority countries for short haul and long haul set out in the table above?

  • a. Yes
  • b. No
  • c. Don't know

6. Which other countries should we focus on in the:

  • a. Short term (next 2 years)
  • b. Medium term (2-5 years)
  • c. Long term? (5 years plus)
Hub connectivity and point to point

Connectivity to the priority countries can be achieved through hub connectivity or directly ('point to point'). Good connectivity between Scotland and global hub airports enables onward connectivity to a large number of destinations where a direct route may not be viable.

Direct flights are quicker than connecting through a hub airport and in most cases reduce the total emissions from the journey, in particular for those between Scotland and North America where travelling back in the direction you came is avoided by taking a direct flight. Importantly, direct routes stimulate new demand by opening up new markets for inbound tourism and business connectivity.

Therefore, we will continue to work with the aviation sector to try to provide more point to point connectivity where a direct route is viable. We are clear that Scotland's economy benefits from a strong mix of direct routes and good connectivity to global hub airports.

Reducing the environmental impact of restoring international connectivity

The Transition to Low and Zero Emission Aviation section covers reducing the environmental impact of aviation as a whole. In this section we would welcome your views on how we can use the Team Scotland approach to help reduce the environmental impact of air travel to/from other countries.

7. How do we incentivise the use of more efficient aircraft, whilst still ensuring that we secure the routes Scotland needs?


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