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The letter calls on the government to remove the current Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) advisory against non-essential travel. Nearly 70 travel companies have reportedly written to Mr Raab asking the government for Britons to be allowed to holiday in countries that are deemed “low risk”. If these plans are put in place, this could potentially open up holiday destinations outside of Europe.
A second national lockdown in England began today with international travel or travel within the UK banned “unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons”.
The letter was signed by bosses from firms such as Explore Worldwide, Sunvil and Last Frontiers.
The letter was detailed in The Daily Telegraph and read: “FCDO travel advice is intended to protect UK citizens abroad.
“This advisory, which you introduced on March 17 for an initial period of 30 days, was a sensible step when international borders were closing at short notice and citizens risked being stranded.
“However, that risk has clearly passed and those countries that are opening up are doing so in a calm and controlled manner, with measures in place to protect both their citizens and overseas visitors.”
It added: “We all either work for or represent specialist and long-haul tour operators, and have all had to make valued members of staff redundant.”
Airlines UK has also sent a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak asking for government support for the aviation sector.
The letter details the “expectation” that people will not travel by air due to the latest national restrictions in England.
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Signed by Chief Executive of Airlines UK Tim Alderslade, the letter explains the devastating impact the pandemic has had on aviation with thousands losing jobs and the economy suffering as a result.
Airlines UK says that airlines are “in effect closed businesses” and are in a weaker position “to face this period”.
The letter also mentions the UK’s travel corridor policy which sees countries sometimes removed and added on a weekly basis.
It reads: “Airlines are capital intensive operations with a high cost base beyond their employees, and were not able to meaningfully recover over the summer season, with key Travel Corridors closing on a weekly basis and major markets (not least the United States) never opening, and no testing policy in place to support a restart (unlike many of our European rivals).
“The Canary Islands, a vital market for the winter season for several UK airlines, was added as a Travel Corridor a little over a week ago, a positive prospect which has also now been reversed.
“Consequently, the cross-economy support to date has been welcome and necessary to avert a collapse of airline businesses, who have nonetheless relied upon borrowing and other emergency measures to survive, including drawing down on their reserves and building up billions of pounds of debt that will need to be repaid, in a context where recovery is anticipated to take several years.”
Airlines UK added that they hope a coronavirus vaccine will be available by spring and know that people will want to continue to travel in the future but that for “the next period” aviation will need a support and recovery package to see UK airlines through the winter months.
The package proposal includes:
- The continuation of furlough for the aviation sector throughout at least the winter IATA season.
- Additional, direct government grants or additional loans to support airlines, with new loans made available at reasonable rates – based on the fact that travel will return.
- Extension of CCFF and CLBILS timelines from the current 12 months and 36-month timescales out to 5-years for both, and availability of government loans for airlines who are unable to access CCFF or CLBILS, on pre-Covid commercial terms.
- A 12-month APD waiver to be brought in now to provide certainty and a clear signal for customers, helping restart suspended routes and support recovery in 2021.
- The letter also mentioned subsidising private testing, a further deferral or cancellation of air navigation charges and support for airlines to cover the costs of empty planes leaving the UK to repatriate Britons.
Currently, Britons returning from countries not on the travel corridor list to the UK have to self-isolate for 14 days.
The travel industry has been urging the government to introduce airport testing to shorten the quarantine period.
Airlines UK is also urging the government to introduce a UK testing regime to be put in place by December “within a framework whose goal is rapid, pre-departure testing as the international standard.”
It added: “We also support a review of the Travel Corridor system to make it more targeted and regionalised, and the removal of the global FCDO travel advice so that advice against non-essential travel is restricted only to destinations where risk to travellers is far higher than at home.”
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