The UK government has told the British to cut off foreign holiday planning this summer, dampening the hopes of a desperate airline industry to take flights again before another high season passes.
While confirming that restaurants, pubs and shops in England will reopen next week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it is not yet clear that non-core international travel can safely resume as planned on May 17th.
The move extends the uncertainty facing an airline industry from over a year of Covid-19 restrictions that have shaken balance sheets and forced carriers to raise money to stay afloat.
Johnson faces political battle over UK passport program
Speaking at a news conference Monday, Johnson said he was hoping foreign travel could resume by the target date if virus waves in other countries could be contained.
“But I do not want to mortgage wealth or underestimate the difficulties we are seeing in some of the destination countries that people may want to go to,” Johnson said. “We do not want to see the virus re-imported into this country from abroad.”
When the UK reopens, a “traffic light” system will be used to classify countries in green, amber and red based on factors such as virus infection levels and vaccination levels. More details will be determined when Johnson’s Global Travel Task Force releases its report later this week.
Decisions on categories for specific destinations will be made based on data and evidence “closer in time,” the government said.
Travelers from the green countries will still have to do virus tests before they leave and after they arrive, Johnson’s office said. The rules of quarantine and self-isolation will apply to passengers entering the country from countries on the red and amber lists.
“Today’s announcement does not provide the clarity we were seeking online BACK to normalcy, “said Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines uk, a commercial group including British Airways,Ryanair Holdings Plc,EasyJet Plc and tour operatorTUI AG air unit. “We expect further details, but the measures shown, including the potential for multiple trials for travelers from even ‘green countries’, will prevent meaningful travel even to low-risk destinations.”
British Airways is still optimistic about reopening flights on May 17, CEO Shean Doyle said on Tuesday. He spoke in a joint call with the management of London Heathrow Airport and his rivalVirgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., advocating for a reopening of trans-Atlantic flights, the world’s largest market for premium travel and an essential segment for both carriers.
“We are urging the government to continue to work on bilateral agreements with countries and governments that have also started major vaccination programs in the world,” Doyle told reporters. “Do not miss the opportunity to have had an incredibly successful vaccine range.”
Wine at Risk
A key question is the formula used to create the levels.Risk assessments will take into account a country’s vaccination program, infection rate, virus strains and sequence capacity, the government has said. The fine print can be crucial for countries like the US as well as France, which has air, rail and ferry links to the UK that are essential for trade as well as travel.
A second summer missed by the coronavirus crisis is likely to trigger a major waveAirline failures and bankruptcy registrations, along with a repeat of the 2020 bailout plans, job cuts and aircraft delays and cancellations, according to IBA Group consultants. European carriers in particular have smelled the pain that has set in due to the increase in cases and new blockages.
Leisure-focused airlines usually receive money from summer bookings during the first three months of the year after preparing operations. Summer is also when incomes are usually increased by people going on vacation.
“Every extended one shutdown “The main destinations of UK airports in Europe in particular will have major financial impacts that the government will have to mitigate,” said Karen Dee, CEO of the Association of Airport Operators, in an email statement.
The airlines protested the government’s request for two tests, which would increase travel costs for tourists from green countries as well. Digital Covid passports, based on a vaccine test, a negative test or immunity for those who have recovered, may eventually eliminate the need for assessments, but the idea iscontroversial
Conservative MPs are dissatisfied with the passport policy. Former Secretary of State Mark Harper said the Covid certifications would create a “two-tier Britain” and demanded that members of Parliament be given a vote on the plan. “Attempting to introduce these domestic vaccine passports through the back door by linking them to the removal of social distance rules will simply not be acceptable,” Harper said.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Nadhim Zahawi said in an interview with Sky News that vaccine passports would not be needed to enter pubs when customers are allowed back within the next month, although the government supports the plan and says it will be important. for international travel.
The aviation industry headed for the new year expecting to operate near full steam until Easter, usually the start of the region’s busiest season. Then a new type of virus that spread rapidly forced the UK todeclare overseas most international travel. The government prosecuted in March a fine of more than pa 5,000 ($ 6,950) for anyone violating the rules.
Carriers have lobbied for a firm reopening date as they push for a level system with clear guidelines they can use to schedule schedules in advance.
“There is a real risk that the government is very cautious and we do not see any material travel until after the summer,” said John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow. “It will be too late for many of those UK travel companies that rely on summer vacations.”
(Updates with comments from British Airways, CEO of Virgin Atlantic from paragraph 10.)
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