September 14-18, 2020

‘Budget support will be too late’

Ian Taylor

The government will be “too late” with targeted support for travel if it waits until the Autumn Budget, industry leaders warned this week. EasyJet chief executive Johan

Lundgren led the calls for action, insisting: “We can’t wait for the economic measures this industry needs if the government wants the industry to remain intact.” Speaking at a Travel Weekly Future

of Travel summit, Lundgren said: “The UK came late to the party on this whole thing. There is so much at stake, but the sense is the government is taking this industry for granted.” Airport Operators Association

chief executive Karen Dee said: “Passenger numbers are barely in double-digit percentage figures and all the time airports stay open they have 70%-80% of [normal] costs. That is unsustainable.” She warned “it’s not impossible”

airports will close and said: “We haven’t got a pathway out.” Dale Keller, chief executive of

the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR UK), argued waiting for the Autumn Budget, expected in early November, would be “too late”. He told the summit: “It’s too

late because the decisions are being

The Autumn Budget is expected in early November

made now. Airports and airlines are burning through cash. All the cuts they can make have been made. We’re going into a major restructuring of the industry. It’s inevitable we’ll see more job losses.” Iata UK and Ireland country

manager Simon McNamara agreed: “It’s extremely serious. Iata put out data in March showing that, on average, airlines had two to three months of cashflow. This has been going on five months. Winter is going to be extremely difficult.” He warned: “There are a huge,

huge number of jobs at risk.” Lundgren pointed out: “The

furlough scheme ends in October whereas furlough schemes in most major European markets continue throughout the winter.” Dee said: “We’re already

seeing jobs shed. We still hope the government will put in place some sort of targeted replacement for the Job Retention Scheme. Unless they do something, it will be devastating for airport employees.” She added: “The government

is listening, [but] are they hearing? We’re talking to them a lot. But has Number 10 and the Treasury fully understood the urgency? It appears

not. They need to act.” i Future of Travel Week, page 10

Testing regimes a Ian Taylor

A Covid-19 testing regime for travellers can be up and running quickly if the government gives the go-ahead to ease quarantine restrictions, say industry leaders. Airport Operators Association

chief executive Karen Dee said: “There are a number of airports ready to go with pilot schemes. Heathrow has had trials with its own staff and would love to get trials going with passengers. Most of the industry would be ready to go in a pretty short time.” The industry continued to await

open to UK travellers thanks to the ‘island corridors’ policy adopted last week. Restrictions on Sweden were relaxed. Dee told a Travel Weekly Future


of Travel summit: “The government consistently says it’s following medical advice, so let’s have the medical adviser tell us the framework [for testing]. The benefit of trials would be data. [But] there has to be a reduction in quarantine. You’re not going to pay for a test if you don’t get anything for it.” Dale Keller, chief

executive of the Board of Airline

a government response to various testing proposals this week after ministers resisted repeated demands from MPs to make a decision last week. The government reimposed

quarantine restrictions on mainland Portugal from Saturday morning, along with Hungary, although Madeira and the Azores remained

4 17 SEPTEMBER 2020

Representatives (BAR UK), agreed: “We don’t see any mechanism apart from testing to reopen borders and reduce quarantine.” BAR UK and Airlines UK have

proposed the government adopt a redesigned ‘traffic-light’ system of travel corridor classification similar to that advocated by the EU. Keller said: “Transport secretary Grant Shapps promoted a traffic-light

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