Aviation and aerospace trade bodies have given a cautious welcome to yesterday’s announcement of a roadmap out of lockdown for England which was announced by the UK government yesterday.

Potential dates for a loosening of restrictions were announced as the milestone of one-in-three adults now receiving their first vaccination was passed. The roadmap included dates for the return of schools, limited social mixing, re-opening of non-essential retail stores and international travel later. Under current restrictions, holidays are banned and international flights can only be taken for a limited number of reasons. Routes out of lockdown for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will be announced by their respective regional governments.

Clarity will help industry and travellers

Tim Alderslade, Chief Executive of Airlines UK, the industry association representing UK-registered carriers, said: “We’re grateful to the Prime Minister and Department for Transport for providing the clarity the whole sector was looking for that international travel can reopen this summer, as soon as it is safe to do so. This will provide much needed reassurance not only to airlines in desperate need of a summer season but families looking to visit friends and family and take a long-awaited holiday, and we know there is enormous pent-up demand for when we can restart operations.”

“We now look forward to working with Ministers and as part of the proposed Taskforce on the practical detail of how current restrictions – which are amongst the toughest anywhere in the world – can be removed, and how the sector can be provided with as much advance notice as possible before any restart. As we have always said, this must be risk-based and proportionate but based on the overriding assumption that as the vaccine rollout accelerates a phased easing of restrictions is achievable.”

Airline pilots’ association BALPA described the potential to restart international travel this summer as an “essential lifeline” but added that more financial support was needed if the industry was to survive.

“At least three more months of grounded aircraft”

General secretary Brian Strutton said: “I am pleased the Prime Minister listened to BALPA’s pleas, and those from the whole airline industry, to have at least some idea of when international travel may resume. Airlines can now start to make effective plans and we can build the confidence of the travelling public to make bookings for summer flights.”

“However, airlines and airports need financial support to survive until then because we have got at least three more months of grounded aircraft ahead, with virtually no revenue coming in to the airlines at all. I urge the Government to look urgently and seriously at an economic support package for the travel sector.”

ADS Chief Executive Paul Everitt echoed the need for further financial support for the aerospace industry. He said: “While vaccination programmes in the UK and internationally offer hope for the future, our aviation and aerospace industries face a long haul to full recovery.”

“These sectors are among the most impacted by the crisis. Many companies are in urgent need of support to survive until passengers are able to return to international business and leisure travel.

Aviation “vital” to re-establishing UK’s international connections

“Aviation is vital to re-establishing the international connections the UK needs to secure a return to growth. Industry welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the work of the reconstituted travel taskforce, which I urge to bring forward its report into the resumption of travel as quickly as possible.”

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