Aviation calls on Johnson to reopen sector
Chief executives from leading UK-based airlines have added their voices to calls for the prime minister to ensure an aviation recovery roadmap is announced next week.
ABTA, AITO and a host of other organisations combined under the Save Future Travel Coalition offered their thoughts earlier this week, while the World Travel & Tourism Council called for the abandonment of travel corridors today.
The roadmap is critical for both airlines and consumers alike to enable them to plan for the summer and is needed to pave the way for the safe reopening of international travel, aviation leaders stated.
The chief executives of British Airways, easyJet, Jet2.com, Loganair, Ryanair, Tui and Virgin Atlantic, have warned that without a clear indication of intent from the government that aviation will restart in the coming months the UK faces a year of limited connectivity to the rest of the world.
Johan Lundgren, chief executive of easyJet, said: “We know people are looking for some reassurance about when they will be able to return to some normality.
“To be able to achieve this we need to know that government is planning for travel to return when it is safe and stand ready to work with them on a roadmap that could help us reunite people with their loved-ones or enable people to take a much-needed holiday this year.”
Any failure to open will limit the economic recovery of the country according to airline leaders.
Sean Doyle, chief executive of British Airways, added: “The aviation industry stands with the government in putting public health at the top of its agenda, but the future of the British economy and the jobs of hundreds of thousands of people are at risk without a sensible and structured plan to safely restart international travel over the coming months.
“Britons have made enormous personal sacrifices and we hope that the government will soon provide a plan to allow people to be re-united.”
This risk-based approach would enable the safe restart of travel, by progressively removing the current layers of restrictions applied to travel destinations, on a tiered basis, in time for the summer.
This will allow people to visit their family and friends abroad, re-establish business contacts and go on holiday.
Shai Weiss, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “We all know how important it is to protect the achievements gained through lockdown and the amazing vaccine rollout. Indeed, public health and protecting the NHS must come first.
“However, aviation, and free movement of people and goods, are crucial to the UK’s economic recovery and the emergence of a truly global Britain as it recovers from the crisis.
“That’s why it’s important aviation is included in the prime minister’s roadmap on Monday.”
The sector has also called for further sectoral economic support for UK aviation to bridge to the recovery and stimulate and strengthen any recovery when it comes.
David Burling, chief executive airline and markets for TUI Group, said: “We believe there’s a safe way to restart international travel by lifting travel restrictions on a country-by-country basis – ensuring that we continue to protect our health systems and the vaccine, but without imposing unnecessary restrictions.
“Customers are looking for reassurance about when a holiday abroad may be possible, and it is therefore vital that the government supports the travel industry by working with us on a pragmatic roadmap.”