Airlines UK and pilots’ association BALPA have welcomed the Government’s relaxation of restrictions for US and EU arrivals.
The decision, announced today, would allow fully vaccinated passengers from the EU and US into England and Scotland without quarantine. The announcement will spell the end of mandatory isolation for those arriving in England from an amber list country although travellers will still be required to take Covid tests before they arrive and on the second day when they land. The change will come into force at 4am BST on Monday August 2.
Under current restrictions, only people who have received their jab in the UK can avoid quarantine when arriving from amber list countries, with the exception of France.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the new relaxation of restriction would only apply to people who have been fully vaccinated with a jab approved by the EU or US. At present, the relaxation of quarantine rules applies only to England and Scotland, but restrictions in Wales and Northern Ireland under review.
“Positive step should pave the way for a return to unrestricted travel”
Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, said: “Exemptions for all fully vaccinated travellers is undoubtedly a positive move, offering a lifeline for thousands of businesses reliant on international inbound travel. It also begins to deliver the vaccine dividend for millions more people, for friends and family to reconnect, and for businesses to travel and trade overseas again.
He added: “Ministers should combine this progress with moving more low-risk countries from the Amber to Green list next week to allow more people to travel safely and with confidence. The evidence suggests many more EU countries should go green and this remains the best way to provide passengers with the reassurance to book, along with the removal of onerous testing requirements which are adding hundreds of pounds unnecessarily to the cost of travel.”
“This is still nowhere near the summer season passengers were hoping for, and we remain the only sector that is not allowed to trade on a pre-pandemic basis. But today is a positive step that should pave the way for a return to unrestricted travel in the future.”
Sector is “rapidly heading towards the cliff edge end of furlough”
BALPA acting General Secretary Martin Chalk said the decision may have been made too late to protect the jobs of thousands of people working within the industry.
“This welcome news may be too late in the summer to protect the tens of thousands of aviation jobs supported by the furlough scheme,” he said. “We are halfway through the only profitable part of the year – summer – and UK travellers still face huge restrictions in the countries that will allow us in, preventing a real recovery.
Chalk urged the government to extend support to the sector, he warned: “We are rapidly heading towards the cliff edge end of furlough in 8 weeks’ time and as a result, BALPA is in negotiations with airlines to prevent further job losses.
“The Government must extend furlough to support the aviation sector or watch the loss of the jobs, experience and skills that will enable Global Britain to truly take off.”