LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) – UK airlines and holiday agencies are planning a “day of action” on Wednesday to step up pressure on the government to ease travel restrictions, just weeks before the start of high summer season.
Travel agencies, whose finances have been strained during the pandemic, are desperate to avoid another summer lost to COVID-19. But with Britain’s strict quarantine requirements still in place, it now seems likely.
As time is running out until July, Europe’s largest airline Ryanair (RYA.I) and Manchester Airports Group on Thursday launched a lawsuit to try to get the government to relax the rules before the start of the most profitable season in the industry. Read more
On Wednesday 23 June, pilots, cabin crew and travel agents will meet in Westminster, central London and airports across Britain to try to mobilize support.
The British aviation industry has been hit harder by the pandemic than its European peers, according to data released by the pilots union BALPA on Sunday.
This showed that daily UK arrivals and departures were down 73% from an average day earlier this month compared to before the pandemic, the biggest drop in Europe. Spain, Greece and France are down by less than 60%.
UK airports have also been hit hard, with traffic entering and leaving London’s second airport, Gatwick, down 92%, the data shows.
The government has had to balance the risks of an overseas vacation bringing new variants of the virus to Britain, Justice Minister Robert Buckland told the BBC. Public Health England official Susan Hopkins said people are mainly expected to spend their vacation at home this summer while the population is vaccinated.
But time is running out for the industry, the union said.
“There is no time to hide behind task forces and journals,” BALPA Secretary General Brian Strutton said.
“BALPA demands that the UK government pull itself together and open up US roads and European vacation destinations it has blocked without any published evidence. “
More than 45,000 jobs have already been lost in UK aviation, with estimates suggesting 860,000 jobs in aviation, travel and tourism are only supported by government leave programs.
Reporting by Sarah Young Editing by Mark Potter
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