Save Our Summer: UK pilots call on politicians to save travel industry

A plane takes off from Heathrow Airport amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in London, Britain on February 4, 2021. REUTERS / Toby Melville / File Photo

LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) – British pilots on Wednesday urged politicians to save the summer holiday season with clearer travel advice and provide direct financial support to save jobs as the industry is grappling with an existential crisis brought on by COVID restrictions.

England reopens from a third national COVID-19 lockdown, but the travel sector is largely closed for business with the government advising against travel for all except a small handful of destinations.

UK government ministers are looking at ways to reopen travel more widely and consider removing quarantine requirements for vaccinated adults and their children to certain destinations. Read more

But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that no matter what, it will be a tough year for travel. Read more

“The government has to decide whether this summer it will make or break the UK travel industry,” said Brian Strutton, acting secretary general of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA).

“Pilots are today meeting with politicians across the UK to urge them to pressure the government to act now and save not only summer but the future of aviation and travel in the UK -United.”

BALPA said a more transparent and open system to make restrictions more proportionate and reopen larger-scale travel to the United States and Europe.

Under the current “traffic light” system, only travelers to a small number of Green List countries can avoid quarantine.

Popular European vacation destinations for Britons including Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Greece are currently rated ‘amber’ and require returning passengers to take three expensive COVID-19 tests and self-isolate for 10 days upon return.

BALPA urged the government to expand the green list when the system was overhauled on June 28.

Strutton also said direct state support for airlines and airports would help save jobs and businesses as the European winter approaches, traditionally the off-peak travel season for Britons.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Kristina McManus

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