Tanzer critical of Shapps address

Ian Taylor

Transport secretary Grant Shapps’ address to last week’s Travel Convention leſt Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer “disappointed and concerned”. Tanzer made his feelings

way to fast tests We’ve agreed on

a regime based on a single test a week after arrival. It’s up to the private sector to fulfil it

the taskforce will go to the prime minister in early November and we’ll hear when it will be implemented.” Department for Transport

aviation director Rannia Leontaridi said the taskforce meeting with industry leaders “set the scene”. Airlines UK chief executive Tim

Alderslade said: “The question is what will move the needle in getting people booking? We don’t think seven days is going to have the impact we want.” However Dale Keller, chief

executive of the UK Board of Airline Representatives, said rapid tests could “move the goalposts”. “What’s important is to have this

report to the PM on time,” he said. Medical services firm

Collinson began offering rapid tests at Heathrow from Tuesday to passengers flying to Italy or Hong Kong at a cost of £80. Results are recognised in both countries, with negative tests excusing travellers from quarantine on arrival. However, Italy was removed from

the UK’s travel corridors list from 4am on Sunday, leaving travel firms with few remaining destinations to sell, and travellers returning from Italy will have to quarantine for 14 days. Greek island Crete was added. Heathrow was also due to see the

trial of a Covid-19 ‘health passport’, CommonPass, on Wednesday among passengers on a United flight to New York. Leontaridi described the

CommonPass trial as “exciting”, saying: “This is the kind of stuff the rest of the taskforce will be considering.”

Abta’s Mark Tanzer (right) with convention moderator Chris Ship

22 OCTOBER 2020 5

plain, telling Travel Weekly: “Although Grant Shapps said a lot of work had been done to develop testing, we haven’t seen it. On support for the sector, he gave the impression we’ve already had it with furlough and there wouldn’t be any more. But the furlough scheme is at an end.” On Brexit, Tanzer said: “Time

is short. We need certainty. People want to be confident their flights will operate. On all these aspects, what he said didn’t meet the needs of the industry.” Tanzer welcomed Shapps’

confirmation of an imminent ‘test and release’ system, saying: “Anything that reduces quarantine is welcome.” But he said: “People have to be able to get the tests. It’s an operational question. We need to be able to explain to people how they will get a test, get the result and move on.”

He described the cost

of private tests as “a huge disincentive”, saying: “£150 each for a family of four is a big hurdle.” The Abta chief fears the

end of furlough will herald a new round of job losses. He said: “The logic that made the government introduce furlough is still there. The [replacement] Job Support Scheme is not irrelevant, but will it save jobs? Travel firms can’t pay 55% of salaries for 33% of the work. The feedback from the sector is bookings are so slow it’s not going to save jobs.” Tanzer insisted: “The industry

can’t cut out the Covid problem. People are focused on how to get through the next six months. All we can do is reduce the obstacles, whether advisories or quarantine. Anything that harmonises international standards is going to help. But there hasn’t been any evidence of coordination. “The government wants

people to be able to move around at Christmas. That might free up

travel, but it’s only weeks away.” i Travel Convention reports, pages 8-11 and 38-40

PICTURE: Collinson

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