Jet2, British Airways, TUI, easyJet, Ryanair: airline government plea to ease travel restrictions

Major UK airline operators have issued a fresh appeal to the government over travel restrictions affecting their industry amid the pandemic “disaster”.

Members of Airlines UK, including Jet2, British Airways, TUI, easyJet, Ryanair, are calling on new Health Secretary Sajid Javid to increase the number of countries on the “green list” in the next travel review in 10 days.

Up to 22 countries are eligible for consideration, due to a lower infection rate than those currently on the green list, according to a former British Airways chief strategy officer.

They include destinations popular with British holidaymakers including France, Italy and the Czech Republic.

Anyone traveling to a greenlisted foreign country is not required to self-isolate upon return to the UK.

READ MORE:Boris Johnson press conference tonight to announce July 19 freedoms

Tim Alderslade, head of the UK Airlines trade body, wrote a letter to Mr Javid urging him to throw a lifeline to the struggling sector by easing travel restrictions and removing more countries from the Orange List at time for the important summer vacation period.

The travel industry generates around £ 53bn in national spending each year and Mr Alderslade said the UK is the third most connected country in the world.

The letter states: “The pandemic has been a disaster for our industry and the economy at large. “

He added that international travel supported 1.5 million jobs before the pandemic, but warned that “hundreds of thousands of jobs have now been lost and many more remain at risk.”

The 14 signatories of the letter included Association of British Travel Agents Managing Director Mark Tanzer, Tourism Alliance Director Kurt Janson, as well as Prospect Union General Secretary Mike Clancy and Unite Union Deputy General Secretary Diana Holland.

Industry leaders have said the government needs to expand the green list in accordance with advice from its advisory body, the Global Travel Taskforce.

The letter also said the government should make the restrictions “more proportionate, while retaining a strong red list to guard against variants.”

The signatories also called for more financial support, including the extension of the leave scheme, “which recognizes that the capacity of the travel industry to trade and generate income is much slower than expected.”

“We implore you and your Cabinet colleagues to act decisively to save jobs and businesses, and to put the industry on the path to recovery in a risk-based manner,” said they stated.

The letter compared the UK’s approach to that of other countries that have relaxed restrictions even with lower vaccination rates.

“We are encouraged that the government has confirmed its intention to relax the rules for fully vaccinated people traveling from orange destinations and to remove statements discouraging travel to these places,” he said.

“However, these changes must be implemented quickly – at the latest in parallel with the lifting of national restrictions in July – if they are to make a significant difference for the UK travel industry.”

The signatories added that they are encouraged by reports that the government plans to recognize the EU vaccination certificate system designed to remove barriers to international tourism.

The next revision of the green list is expected to take place on July 15 with changes likely to be introduced the following week in time for the summer school holidays.

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