Sunday 1 November 2020 10:14 am

Airlines plead for emergency support as international travel banned

The UK aviation industry has made fresh pleas for emergency financial support from ministers after international travel was banned for the duration of the new lockdown

From 5 November to 2 December, foreign holidays have been banned – as well as overnight stays in the UK.

Read more: Boris Johnson announces month-long lockdown for England

The decision is a hammer blow to the country’s airlines and airports, which are already battling the worst crisis in their history.

In a joint statement, Tim Alderslade of Airlines UK and Karen Dee of the Airport Operators Association demanded sector-specific support on the back of the new restrictions.

They said: “Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover. A ban on international travel means airlines and airports, already hamstrung by quarantine, are closed businesses and will require financial support now – which other sectors like hospitality have received – alongside a comprehensive restart package. 

“This needs to include immediate additional economic support for the winter and steps to support recovery, including urgent roll-out of a testing regime, business rates relief for airports, and an emergency waiver of Air Passenger Duty.

“Hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economic recovery are on the line”, they warned.

Read more: London lockdown: What the Government’s new rules mean for you

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Mark Tanzer, chief exec of travel association ABTA said: “Today’s announcement that holidays in the UK and abroad will not be allowed under lockdown in England will mean a complete shut down for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic – but public health must come first. 

“We’re pleased to see the Government has recognised the significant impact the latest lockdown will have on businesses and has extended the furlough scheme until the start of December.” 

The decision to ban international travel comes just a few days after officials had reopened travel corridors to popular winter destinations such as the Canary Islands.

It also throws into doubt plans to introduce a new scheme to replace the current 14-day quarantine regime.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps had said that ministers were looking to put in place a system to half the time for which people had to self-isolate by December.

Read more: What’s in store for the airline industry this winter?

Back in March Chancellor Rishi Sunak promised airlines a sector-specific package of support, but no details were ever forthcoming. 

Since the initial lockdown, the sector has hemorrhaged cash at a frightening rate, and is now facing up to the traditionally challenging winter period.