Hunters heading to Scotland with firearms are being prevented from boarding flights – and airlines are blaming the UK’s stringent gun laws. A sudden and unannounced ban on flying passengers who are carrying hunting rifles has hit passengers on airlines including Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines. According to Lufthansa’s German website, the airline is no longer allowing passengers to fly to Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Neda Jaafari, Lufthansa spokesperson for Europe, Middle East & Africa says the ban extendsbeyond Scotland to the whole of the UK: “In the past, due to the well-known strict firearm laws and import regulations in the United Kingdom, there have been repeated problems for Lufthansa’s passengers and staff, in regards to the import of hunting weapons via our commercial flights. In order to avoid these difficulties with the authorities, Lufthansa has imposed a weapon embargo for its passengers on flights to the UK.”
On its website, Brussels Airlines says: ‘Please note that it is no longer allowed to transport arms and ammunition on flights to/from the UK’. Air France is expected to issue the same advice this week. KLM, part of the same group as Air France, is still carrying firearms to the UK, according to its website.
This change in policy leaves passengers hoping to travel to Scotland stranded with their guns across Europe. Constantin Weinberger of Austrian hunting agent Wild Tradition had two parties of four who were refused carriage on Lufthansa aeroplanes, even though they bought tickets for their guns earlier in the year. He says: “I have groups of hunters booked on flights stuck in airports. Why are they suddenly no longer welcome in Scotland with firearms? I have one team of guns from Austria who have had to fly into Manchester and hire a car to reach the Highlands.”
The airports are keen to distance themselves from Lufthansa’s decision. Inverness Airport confirmed that passengers can carry firearms on all its flights and that it has a Section 5 Firearms License for the airport for safe transportation. “However,” adds a spokesman, “it is at the airlines discretion to withdraw the service at any time.”
There is confusion about how far the ban has spread among other airlines. They still offer carriage of firearms on flights. However, commenting on the story, one Facebook user says: “This is an issue which I became aware of during the 2017/18 season. It has gained momentum in recent weeks. Even though clients have a valid UK Visitor Permit, some airlines are refusing to carry firearms. Lufthansa, Swiss Air, some KLM and a few EasyJet flights are included in this. Travellers are being told it’s an ‘embargo’ which after discussions with both Police Scotland and Border Force I know to be untrue. Colin Shedden of BASC Scotland and Andrew Grainger of CSTGS are both on the case. One of my September stag clients travelled into the UK with Firearms via ferry to Newcastle and had no problems; those in his group who flew did; he is a journalist in Germany and is researching the issue with a view to writing an expose article.”