Save Our Summer: UK pilots and cabin crew call for rescue of travel industry


LONDON, June 23 (Reuters) – British pilots, cabin crew, travel agents and other workers urge politicians to save the summer holiday season by reopening roads abroad or risking breaking destroy tens of thousands of jobs when companies go bankrupt.

Travel industry workers will demonstrate across Britain on Wednesday, protesting outside Parliament, meeting with politicians and holding events at airports to highlight the threat to their jobs from strict government rules.

England is set to reopen from a third COVID-19 lockdown in July, but the travel industry effectively remains closed with the government advising against travel except to a 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 said whatever happens it will be a tough year for travel. Read more

The industry says the rules must be relaxed as soon as possible, otherwise tens of thousands of additional jobs will be lost if companies go bankrupt.

“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).

To survive more than 15 months of travel restrictions, companies like British Airways (ICAG.L), easyJet (EZJ.L), TUI and Jet2 (JET2.L), have contracted billions of pounds in debt.

“Airlines are at the absolute limit of what they can borrow and without a real reopening this summer they will need government support to survive,” said UK Airlines industry group CEO Tim Alderslade.

Under the government’s traffic light system, only travelers to a small number of Green List countries can avoid quarantine.

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

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

EasyJet (EZJ.L) Chief Cabin Crew Tina Milton said her staff were joining events on Wednesday “to stand up for travel and show their support for the industry we all work for and love.”

Airlines bosses have said they could be ready for a wider reopening of travel within weeks if government rules change.

But even if Britain relaxes its rules, airlines and tour operators could still face a challenge as the spread of the Delta variant of COVID-19 has prompted other countries to impose restrictions on British arrivals. Read more

Reporting by Alistair Smout; edited by Guy Faulconbridge

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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