Aviation associations have given a warm welcome to the removal of all remaining travel restrictions on international travel.
The announcement was made yesterday by transport secretary Grant Shapps. The remaining rules will end at 04:00 on Friday March 18. The announcement means that passengers who are not fully vaccinated will no longer have to take Covid tests before and after travelling to the UK. Passenger locator form will also no longer be required, however those planning overseas trips will still need to be aware of other countries’ entry rules.
The government has said its default approach for future new Covid strains would be to use “the least-stringent measures” for restricting travel. According to the government’s “Living with Covid” plan, new border measures would only be considered in “extreme circumstances”. New Covid variants and their spread patterns will be monitored by the UKHSA.
“Leading the world in removing all remaining travel restrictions”
Shapps said: “The UK is leading the world in removing all remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, and today’s announcement is a testament to the hard work everyone in this country has put in place to roll out the vaccine and protect each other.”
“I said we wouldn’t keep travel measures in place for any longer than necessary, which we’re delivering on today – providing more welcome news and greater freedom for travellers ahead of the Easter holidays. I look forward to continuing to work with the travel sector and partners around the world to keep international travel moving.”
Removal of restrictions sends “clear message to the world” – Airlines UK
Tim Alderslade, CEO of Airlines UK, the industry body representing UK-registered carriers, welcomed the timing of the announcement in time for the Easter and summer holiday season. He said: “Today’s announcement sends a clear message to the world – the UK travel sector is back. With travellers returning to the UK no longer burdened by unnecessary forms and testing requirements, we can now look forward to the return to pre-Covid normality throughout the travel experience.”
“We’re grateful for the timing of the announcement as we prepare to welcome back passengers this Easter and summer, for which we know there is huge pent-up demand, and for the UK’s leadership in being the first major aviation market to remove all remaining restrictions. The time to return to the skies – to enjoy all that makes aviation and international travel great, for families and businesses – is now.”
AOA – industry faces “significant tailwinds”
Airport Operators Association Chief Executive Karen Dee said the announcement would help the aviation to take its first steps towards recovery but said that the sector faced other pressures such as the rising cost of living and uncertainties caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She said: “A return to restriction-free travel is good news for passengers and should allow aviation to take significant steps towards recovery.”
“People should feel encouraged to book their long-awaited holidays, trips to see relatives and friends abroad that they haven’t seen for a long time and travel to rekindle business ties with other countries.”
“Recovery is not a given, however and with the rising cost of living, the rise in fuel prices and the uncertainty following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there remain potentially significant headwinds for UK airports as they seek to attract travellers back.”
Government recovery plan for sector “urgently” needed – BALPA
Britiish Airlines Pilots’ Association General Secretary Martin Chalk said there was still a need for sector-specific help to aid recovery. He said: “Pilots – alongside the whole aviation and travel industry – welcome the end of the travel restrictions of the Covid era. The aviation industry has been through the worst crisis it has ever faced, yet it will underpin the much-needed economic recovery that Global Britain needs.”
“BALPA pilots look forward to taking Grant Shapps on his next trip and in the mean time, call for the government to publish its recovery plan for the sector urgently. We must ensure that we can effectively compete and regain the competitive ground lost to European competitors as a result of the UK Government’s stringent and harmful approach.”