Isles air services are coming under threat as a result of the UK Government's insistence on withdrawal from co-operation agreements with the European Union as part of its Brexit policy, says Angus MacNeil, MP for Na-Eileanan an Iar.
Mr MacNeil has written an urgent letter to the UK Government regarding the decision to withdraw from membership of the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS).
Mr MacNeil says the decision to withdraw from the EGNOS satellite system at the end of June is a hugely retrograde step and will impact directly on the dependability of air services to the islands.
It would also leave the UK as the only G20 country without any satellite-based aviation navigation capability.
Mr MacNeil has had contact with Scotland's airline Loganair who have deep concerns about the impact of this decision on service reliability and safety.
In the letter to Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Mr MacNeil stated his support for the UK to retain membership to ensure that airports in Na h-Eileanan an Iar, and elsewhere, can continue to operate.
He said: “The airports in my constituency provide a vital service bringing mail and cargo to the islands as well as facilitating transportation of patients for medical emergencies and appointments as well as facilitating search and rescue operations. During the pandemic, the service provided by our airports was critical in transporting Covid-19 patients and tests.”
He continued stating that Loganair had shared with him their concerns about safety on lifeline services without membership of EGNOS, outlining that precision satellite-based navigation allows them to operate safely in weather conditions where traditional ground-based navigational aids do not.
He said: “This is incredibly worrying, especially as Loganair have developed satellite-based navigation capability using the Twin Otter planes into Barra Airport, as well as other airports in Scotland, and have re-equipped aircraft and retrained pilots.
“The decision to leave EGNOS means that the UK will be the only G20 country without any satellite-based aviation navigation capability. This would be a hugely retrograde step which could result in cancellation of these lifeline services.”