COVID-19: Pilots criticize ‘ridiculously cautious’ travel rules, say UK aviation sector is now hardest hit in Europe

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COVID-19: Pilots criticize ‘ridiculously cautious’ travel rules, say UK aviation sector is now hardest hit in Europe


Pilots are calling for urgent action after claiming the government’s “ridiculously cautious” travel restrictions have made Britain’s aviation industry “the hardest hit in Europe”.

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) accused ministers of appearing to ‘deliberately attack’ the sector with the measures they imposed during the pandemic.

The union calls on the government to “pull itself together” and open “American roads and European vacation destinations” which it has blocked without “any published evidence”.

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Heathrow Airport has been much quieter than usual due to the pandemic

BALPA members will join their colleagues in the aviation and travel industry in a national travel day of action on Wednesday, which aims to pressure the UK government to support a “safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period.” “.

The union’s analysis of official European air traffic data for June showed that the number of flights to and from the UK fell by three quarters compared to 2019.

The union said its study showed Gatwick and Manchester airports to be the most affected in Europe, closely followed by Heathrow and Stansted.

BALPA says figures from the World Trade Organization of the International Air Transport Association show 860,000 jobs have been lost, or are on leave and are at risk of being, in UK air travel and tourism .

Brian Strutton, general secretary of the union, said: “It’s official. The UK aviation industry is hardest hit in Europe, due to the UK government’s ridiculously cautious restrictions on international travel.

“Unhappy ministers appear to be deliberately attacking aviation and tormenting the public with their mixed messages during the summer recess.

“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.

“If the country is to better rebuild itself after the pandemic and forge new international links with trade and travel partners, we will need a thriving aviation industry. There is no time to hide behind task forces and reviews. ”

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Pilots call for urgent government action

Wednesday’s “day of action” is designed to pressure the UK government to support a “safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period”.

The aviation and travel industries want the government to increase the number of countries on the green list while maintaining a “strong red list to guard against variants”.

They also want the government to offer a tailor-made financial support package, including extended leave assistance, for those working in the sector who may need it.

Participants in the day of action are invited to take the message to their MP.

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Gatwick is said to be one of the worst affected airports in Europe

The pilots will also take part in the action at Heathrow, Bristol, Edinburgh and Manchester airports.

A government spokesperson said: “We recognize the difficult times facing all transportation sectors as a result of COVID-19, which is why we have put in place a whole-of-the-world support program. economy, comprising around £ 7 billion in support which is expected to benefit the air transport transport sector by September 2021.

“We continue to work with the aviation industry to help them get through this time and encourage them to take advantage of the unprecedented set of supports available. ”

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