The aviation industry risks collapse without “urgent” government support, industry groups have warned following the latest travel curbs.
From Monday all travel corridors to the UK will be scrapped to prevent any further spread of the new strains of coronavirus.
Travellers arriving in the UK must now provide a negative test pre-departure, followed by a second test after self-isolating for five days.
Industry group Airport Operators Association (AOA) echoed this sentiment, saying the move is “understandable from a public health perspective” but warned it would deepen the crisis.
AOA chief executive Karen Dee said: “Airports are… running on empty – there is only so long they can run on fumes before having to close temporarily to preserve their business for the future.”
“The UK and devolved governments now need to set out as a matter of extreme urgency how they will support airports through this deepening crisis.”
Meanwhile Brian Strutton, head of the pilots union Balpa, called the travel corridor decision “yet another huge blow… with no indication from the Government of any support or a plan to help the sector through this crisis.”
“These are dire times and we need a clear plan of action and a proper package of support or the UK aviation industry will not be there to support the post Covid-19 recovery.”
Trade organisation ADS similarly warned of the “serious threat” the restrictions pose: “Without a specific package of measures for the sector, thousands more jobs and the long-term health of our industry will be put at risk.”
Travel corridors were introduced last summer to allow travellers from countries with low numbers of coronavirus cases to come to the UK without having to self-isolate.
They had been somewhat of a lifeline for an industry that was already on its knees following months of lockdown restrictions, and there are concerns that another elongated closure will be disastrous.
UKinbound chief executive Joss Croft said it is “imperative that Government signals that these new measures are only temporary”.
The new rules will be in place for at least four weeks as ministers grapple with a new variant identified in Brazil.
The decision to close borders comes nearly a year after the coronavirus was first found in the UK. The latest figures show a further 1,280 fatalities and another 55,761 positive cases.