SCOTS have been warned they will be disproportionately affected by flight cancellations this summer, which are being blamed on Brexit.

Around 200 flights to, from and within the UK are being cancelled daily, with budget airline easyJet announcing on Monday it will be cutting back more services this summer.

Last week, UK aviation minister Robert Courts told MPs that it was “not likely” that Brexit was to blame for the crippling staff shortages blighting airlines and airports.

But easyJet chief executive Johnn Lundgren told the Independent: “The pool of people is smaller, it’s just maths. We have had to turn down a huge number of EU nationals because of Brexit.”

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EasyJet announced it is cancelling summer flights in a bid to avoid last-minute cancellations and in response to caps introduced by Gatwick and Amsterdam Schiphol airports. The firm said it is “proactively consolidating a number of flights across affected airports”.

But travel expert Simon Calder has warned Scotland will be hit hard by the cuts. He told BBC Good Morning Scotland that easyJet was cutting roughly one in 10 flights, adding: “But I think Scotland will be disproportionately affected because a large number of those will be flights from Inverness, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh to the London area, in particular to Gatwick.”

The National: An arrivals sign at Edinburgh Airport

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Speaking to reporters, Lundgren explained that since Covid travel restrictions were eased, easyJet has rejected 8000 job applications from EU citizens who did not have permission to work in the UK. “Pre-pandemic we would have turned down 2-2.5% because of nationality issues,” the chief executive said. “Now it’s 35-40%.”

Lundgren said easyJet had previously planned to operate around 160,000 flights between July and September.

In May, the carrier expected its capacity to be at around 97% of 2019 levels over that three-month period, but this has been reduced to 90%.

Last week, the Tory aviation minister claimed Brexit “has little if anything to do with” turmoil in the industry.

Ryanair, which has been largely unaffected by recent cancellations, announced it has added 200 “rescue flights” on its routes serving 19 UK airports until the end of September.

This is aimed at passengers whose flights have been cancelled by easyJet, British Airways and Tui, the Dublin-based carrier said.

SNP transport spokesperson Gavin Newlands said: “This is yet another example of Scotland being disproportionately hit by being dragged out of the EU and the Common Travel Area against our will by the Tories at Westminster.

“Independence is the only route back to the EU, freedom of movement and the single market for Scotland now that the all other main parties have completely ruled out re-joining.

“It is the height of arrogance for the UK Tory government to dismiss travel experts’ comments that Brexit has led to staff shortages and travel chaos. And this is after they already solely blamed the travel industry for all of the issues we are seeing up and down the country at airports.

“Unions and the SNP repeatedly warned against this exact scenario – but we were ignored by the Westminster government."

He added: “Boris Johnson and his ministers have had multiple opportunities to take action to plug the labour shortages it created and they have refused to do so at every turn, with the rejection of the aviation industry’s request to grant special immigration visas for overseas workers being the latest in a long list. We cannot trust Westminster to protect Scotland’s travel sector.”