Clampdown on overseas travel until September would put more than half a million jobs at risk, bosses of Britain’s biggest airlines and airports warn
A clampdown on overseas travel until September would have a catastrophic impact on the economy and trade, and put more than half a million jobs at risk, the bosses of Britain’s biggest airlines and airports have warned.
A report backed by the chief executives of Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester Airports Group warns that a ‘lost summer’ of restricted travel would hit GDP by £26.2billion. It would also dent imports and exports carried by air by £55.7billion. In addition, a delayed restart to air travel would put 574,000 UK jobs at risk, including 73,000 in tourism.
Concern: A report warns that a ‘lost summer’ of restricted travel would hit GDP by £26.2billion
Airlines and airports say travel can begin safely from May 17 – the earliest date under the Government’s lockdown roadmap – due to advances in mass testing and the success of the vaccination roll-out.
They are advising Ministers to open countries in phases according to their health risk, using a traffic light system that grades destinations from green to red.
Under proposals sent by UK airlines to the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce, travellers could fly to ‘green’ countries without restrictions once travel is allowed. Those going to ‘amber’ countries would need to test negative in a lateral flow test.
The Unite trade union estimates that more than 5,000 UK jobs in aviation and related sectors have been lost every month since February of last year.
The Prime Minister is expected to announce the framework for restarting travel as soon as April 5. Tory MP Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, said: ‘The Prime Minister must follow the data and deliver on plans for a May reopening of air travel to protect the livelihoods of people across the country.’
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘The free movement of people and goods by air is vital for competition, connectivity and supporting the economic recovery.’