Airlines, holiday companies ramp up pressure on Britain to ease travel rules
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Britain’s airlines and holiday companies are planning a “day of action” on Wednesday to ramp up pressure on the government to ease travel restrictions, with just weeks to go before the start of the peak summer season.
Travel companies, whose finances have been stretched to breaking point during the pandemic, are desperate to avoid another summer lost to Covid-19. But with Britain’s strict quarantine requirements in place that looks likely.
On Thursday, Europe's biggest airline Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group launched legal action to try to get the government to ease the rules before the industry's most profitable season starts in July.
On Wednesday, June 23, pilots, cabin crew and travel agents are due to gather in Westminster, central London, and at airports across Britain to try to drum up support.
Britain's aviation industry has been harder hit by the pandemic than its European peers, according to data published by pilots trade union BALPA on Sunday.
That showed daily arrivals and departures into the UK were down 73% on an average day earlier this month compared to before the pandemic, the biggest drop in Europe.Spain, Greece and France were down less than 60%.
UK airports were also badly affected, with traffic in and out of London’s second busiest airport Gatwick down 92%,according to the data.
The government had to balance the risks of foreign holidays bringing new variants of the virus into Britain, Justice Minister Robert Buckland told the BBC.
Public Health England official Susan Hopkins said people should predominantly holiday at home this summer while the population was vaccinated.
But time was running out for the industry, said the union.
“There is no time to hide behind task forces and reviews,” said BALPA general secretary Brian Strutton.
“BALPA is demanding that the UK government gets its act together and opens the US routes and European holiday travel destinations that it has blocked with no published evidence at all.”
More than 45 000 jobs have been lost in UK aviation, withe stimates suggesting that 860 000 aviation, travel and tourism jobs are being sustained only by government furlough schemes.