LONDON (Reuters) – British pilots on Wednesday urged politicians to save the summer holiday season through clearer travel guidance and provide direct financial support to rescue jobs as the industry grapples with an existential crisis brought on by COVID restrictions.
England is re-opening from a third national COVID-19 lockdown but the travel sector is essentially closed for business, with the government advising against travel for all bar a small handful of destinations.
British government ministers are examining ways to re-open travel more broadly, and are considering plans to ditch quarantine requirements for vaccinated adults and their children to some destinations.
But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that whatever happens, it will be a difficult year for travel.
“The government has to decide if this summer it will make or break the UK travel industry,” said Brian Strutton, acting General Secretary of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA).
“Pilots are meeting politicians across the UK today to urge them to put pressure on the government to act now and save not only the summer but the future of UK aviation and travel. ”
BALPA said that a more transparent and open system to make restrictions more proportionate and re-open larger scale travel to the United States and Europe.
Under the current “traffic light” system, only travellers to a small number of green-list countries can avoid quarantine.
Popular European holiday destinations for Britons, including Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece, are currently rated “amber” and require returning passengers to take three expensive COVID-19 tests and isolate for 10 days on return.
BALPA urged the government to expand the green list when the system is reviewed on June 28.
Strutton also said that direct state support to airlines and airports would help save jobs and companies as they head into the European winter, traditionally the off-peak travel season for Britons.
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