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Bristol Airport joins travel industry day of action

Employees and businesses from across the aviation and travel industries – airlines, airports, tour operators, travel agents, suppliers and partners – came together on June 23 to raise awareness of the challenges facing the travel industry and to ask the UK Government to reinstate a risk-managed approach around a safe return to international travel in time for the peak summer period and to think again about financial support offered to the sector.

The industry is calling on the UK Government to:

  • Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a traffic-light system, by expanding the Green list in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants.
  • Bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including extension of furlough support, recognising that the travel sector’s ability to trade and generate income is much slower than first anticipated and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.

Organisers and supporters of the cross-industry day of action include ABTA, Airlines UK, the Airport Operators Association, BAR UK, UKinbound, the Business Travel Association, IATA, Advantage Travel Partnership and the wider industry under the umbrella Save Future Travel Coalition, alongside unions GMB, Unite, BALPA and Prospect.

Backing the travel industry now will help to position the sector to ensure it can act as a driving force in the long-term economic recovery of the UK.

Dave Lees, CEO, Bristol Airport said: “This shows the high level of collaboration across the travel sector to highlight the impact to the aviation industry caused by the pandemic.  In 2019 over 4,000 jobs were based at Bristol Airport since COVID we had to reduce the workforce by 30%, and colleagues are still in furlough or flexi-furlough fifteen months later. 

“We need Government to introduce the safe return of travel by implementing a risk-based approach to decisions and open-up travel in time for the summer months.   The reason for the traffic light system being introduced was to avoid a repeat of last summer, where customers were caught out by sudden rule changes. However, the Government has failed to use its own ‘green watchlist’, resulting in many of those returning from Portugal recently facing unexpected quarantine. This has severely undermined the confidence of customers travelling in the critical coming months.

“The UK is already behind the European Union’s decision to open up travel corridors means that our competitor airports, and competitor nations, are in advance of us. This is deeply frustrating as the aviation industry wants to play a major part in supporting and forming a new Global Britain.

“The Government’s support to date has been a lifeline, but it is clear that the lifting of support will come just as UK aviation faces its most difficult phase and as most other sectors expect to see strong growth. The decisions the Government has made will cause lasting damage to the UK aviation sector unless there is additional and targeted support for the remainder of 2021.”

Tim Morris, Regional Officer Unite, added: “The aviation industry is important to the UK economy and workers are engaged not just directly in airports and airlines but also in the supply chain including food, transport and aerospace manufacturing. These jobs are vital to Unite members and we are looking to the Government to minimise uncertainty for aviation and enable a level playing field so that the UK can compete internationally whilst supporting jobs.

“The Government must change its approach and implement the traffic-light system that encourages travel wherever possible whilst still protecting the UK. As well as this the Civil Aviation industry needs an extended furlough scheme that allows flexibility and security whilst full supporting workers’ pay.

“Our members need this now, not at the last minute, which would allow employers to retain staff and invest in the future.”

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