Business leaders have joined MPs and aviation leaders in demanding the government introduce an Aviation, Travel and Tourism Recovery Plan as a matter of urgency.

More than 90 businesses and business groups have written to Chancellor Rishi Sunak today backing calls by the Future of Aviation group of MPs for the urgent introduction of a recovery plan.

At the same time, Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade and Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, have written to the Prime Minister urging he “set out his objective for international travel” in his roadmap for lifting lockdown promised in the week of February 22.

In their letter to the Chancellor, business leaders argue the UK’s economy “depends on the aviation, travel and tourism sectors being fighting fit, not running on empty”.

They demand a recovery plan includes financial support and “measures to return passenger numbers to pre-pandemic levels when possible”.

Signatories of the letter, organised by the Future of Aviation group of MPs, include London First, regional Chambers of Commerce and businesses across the education, energy, hospitality and engineering sectors.

Henry Smith MP, chair of the all-party parliamentary group for the Future of Aviation, said: “Aviation is a key economic enabler.

“With the sector running on empty it is essential the Government bring forward an aviation, travel and tourism recovery plan now to help embattled businesses through the weeks and months ahead.”

He insisted: “This must serve as a wake-up call for the Government.”

“Plans for the safe reopening of international travel must form a part of the Prime Minister’s upcoming roadmap out of lockdown and [ministers] need to work with industry to agree a clear criterion that allows international travel to resume when safe to do so.”

London First chief executive Jasmine Whitbread said: “Our aviation industry is the envy of the world. The government must take action to support the industry to come back at pace.”

In their letter to the Prime Minister, Brady and Alderslade argue the UK now has “the strictest testing regime in the world” and point out: “UK airlines have supported every measure, however painful for our sector, as necessary because public health has to be the priority.

“We need to use the coming weeks to agree a roadmap out of these restrictions when it is safe so that airlines and customers can plan, and the sector can start to repair some of the damage caused by the past 12 months.”

They warn: “If we are to maintain our once thriving aviation sector, a roadmap urgently needs to be devised and published as soon as possible.

“The sector is united in believing a risk-based and targeted approach can be taken to reopen safely travel as vaccine levels increase in the UK.

“It is vital the Prime Minister uses his forthcoming announcement for the domestic economy to set out his objective for international travel.

“We need a clear indication of intent and direction of travel so we can plan and provide reassurances to passengers so they can make plans of their own and book travel.”

Airport Operators Association chief executive Karen Dee also called for a roadmap out of the crisis and “urgent” support from the chancellor, who she called on to deliver an Aviation Recovery Package – warning a failure to do so would impact UK jobs and economic growth.

She said: “UK aviation has been decimated by Covid-19, as ONS data confirms that aviation was the worst-hit sector in the economy with tourism a close second. Our businesses were the first to be impacted, have been at a near-total shutdown for twelve months and will be the last to recover.

“The ONS figures should concentrate minds in government. It shows the clear-cut case for significant, sector-specific support for aviation and tourism, just like the UK’s main competitors such as Germany, France and the US have provided.”