AIRLINE bosses have called on the government to rule out the introduction of border closures even if a new Covid-19 variant emerges.
The government last week brought an end to so-called Plan B restrictions, which saw self-isolation rules and work from home guidance scrapped.
With the UK believed to be past the peak of the Omicron wave of Covid-19, and other restrictions falling away, chief executives at Ryanair, Easyjet, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Jet2 have written to the government calling for an end to travel curbs, too.
“Visit Britain estimates nearly £50bn in tourism spend from overseas has been lost since the pandemic began – all resulting in less tax revenue to fund public services including the NHS,” the airline bosses wrote.
They added that travel restrictions have a “limited effect” in preventing the spread of Covid-19 and that aviation recovery “is vital; not just to the more than half a million people working in it, but to everyone who lives and works in the UK”.
Flight bookings had been increasing but new restrictions introduced in early December grounded the industry’s post-pandemic rebound.
It follows warnings from London mayor Sadiq Khan, who last week cautioned that tourism in the capital may not return to pre-pandemic levels for another three years. Business trips, overnight stays and their associated spending brought £18.8bn to the capital in 2019.
“It is obvious that many of London’s hospitality, retail, cultural and leisure businesses that rely heavily on tourists will be fighting for their survival for months to come, meaning many thousands of jobs are still at risk,” Khan said.
London’s recovery will fuel national recovery, explained UK Hospitality boss Kate Nicholls, “so it’s vital to get domestic and tourist footfall up”.
The Government is set to review travel requirements next week.
Currently, vaccinated travellers flying out of England must pre-book a Covid-19 test, to be taken on the second day of their arrival. Travel bosses are helpful that the tests, which can add hundreds to the price of a family holiday, will be ditched.
A Government spokesperson said: “We continue to keep our travel measures under review and no decisions have been made.