Covid upturn hits quarantine hopes

Ian Taylor

Rising Covid infection rates have dashed hopes of a relaxation of quarantine restrictions, with a senior industry source conceding “the situation is deteriorating”. Aviation bosses urged the

Refund obligations

have reduced the funds available to Tui by €400m

may be extended The CAA is looking

at it. They are aware of the urgency. The crisis is not averted

the government set out a raft of new restrictions, including a requirement for all shop staff to wear face masks. Prime minister Boris Johnson declared Britain had reached “a perilous turning point” and warned of “significantly greater restrictions” to come. Travel Weekly understands the

September Atol-renewal process will be completed on time next week. But industry sources dismissed a Sunday Telegraph report that “the travel industry is line for its biggest shake- up in half a century” as “watchdogs prepare sweeping changes to reflect public anger over delayed refunds”. The Telegraph suggested: “Travel operators will be forced to ring-fence

customer deposits” with “changes implemented over the next few weeks.” But a senior source insisted:

“The government knows nothing about this. The CAA knows nothing about it. All sorts of things need to be looked at post-crisis, but nobody thinks it would be sensible to do it now. It would remove what little liquidity there is in the system and make things worse.” A second industry source

suggested the CAA might “hint” that it is considering reform this week, but said: “This is in the baby-steps stage. Nothing will happen until next year at the earliest and then it would involve a consultation.” Tui reported “volatile changes

in travel advice” had led to “higher customer refund obligations during late August and September” which had reduced the funds it has available from €2.4 billion on August 12 to €2 billion at the start of this week.

Transport secretary

Grant Shapps

government to agree a testing trial at Heathrow, whose chief executive John Holland-Kaye insisted: “Testing in private labs pre-flight and on arrival would ensure there is no risk of importing Covid.” A leading airline source told

Travel Weekly: “We wouldn’t like to see markets blocked from opening by a trial at Heathrow – we still think some destinations could open. But we’re at the point where anything is better than nothing. A trial might be the only way forward. “We keep feeding ideas to the

government and hope one will stir interest.” But the source added: “The background situation makes it increasingly difficult. The situation is deteriorating – we see that.” Iata director general Alexandre de Juniac called on Tuesday for

“100% testing of all air passengers before departure”, saying: “The results of the restart of travel since June are desperately disappointing. “Quarantine measures are

killing the industry’s recovery.” He said: “Testing will present

logistical changes, but we expect to see solutions in the coming weeks. Then it will need governments to agree common standards.” Willie Walsh, who stepped

down as head of British Airways parent IAG this month, hit out at the UK and Irish governments, saying: “The Irish government has taken the most extreme view on restrictions in Europe and you have the UK government introducing, lifting and reintroducing restrictions, causing chaos.” He added: “Politicians have stopped travellers travelling yet that has not done anything to stop coronavirus.” Transport secretary Grant

Shapps removed Thailand and Singapore from quarantine restrictions last week, yet neither currently permits tourists. Shapps will speak at Abta’s

Travel Convention on October 14. i Destinations, page 36



PICTURE: Shutterstock

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