‘We have to be realistic about the shape of aviation post-Covid-19’, says Grant Shapps

Transport minister Grant Shapps says the UK will have to be realistic about how the aviation and holiday industry emerges from the COVID-19 crisis.

Speaking on the BBC’s flagship Sunday morning politics programme, The Andrew Marr Show, Shapps said: “It is clearly going to take some time for industries like aviation to come out of this.

“I think we have to be realistic about what the shape of that looks like.”

Shapps also clarified comments made last month about him not planning to book a summer holiday this year, which drew criticism from industry bodies like Abta.

He told Marr: “I have not said I would not book a holiday this summer, but that I would not book one yet.”

Shapps said this was because it was currently not possible to book an overseas holiday because the Foreign Office advises against all international travel and many destinations are not allowing people in.

Asked about reports that visitors to the UK May be put in quarantine when flying does resume, Shapps said the government would look at the medical advice.

He said medical screening procedures had not been put in place at airports already for returning Brits because it was not considered that it would make much difference to the spread of the disease during the peak.

But he said as the infection rate domestically is brought under control and borders start to re-open it is vital that the UK does not import more COVID-19 cases from abroad.

Responding to the minister’s comments, Airlines UK – which represents airlines including British Airways, easyJet, Virgin Atlantic and Ryanair – said a quarantine would “completely shut off the UK from the rest of the world when other countries are opening up their economies”.

Chief executive Tim Alderslade told the BBC: “The danger is it would be a blunt tool measure when what the UK should be doing is leading internationally with health and aviation authorities on common standards, including health screening, which will enable our sector to restart and give people assurances that it’s safe to travel.”

Earlier in the programme, Monty Python legend and travel broadcaster Michael Palin said people may have to get used to “travelling less and travelling better”.

He said he saw a lot more domestic travel happening after COVID-19 rather than people getting on “cheap and cheerful” flights around the world.

“Go to places and learn about them, enjoy them and find out more about your own country.” he said.

“I think it’s going to be very difficult for people right around the world to travel again as we did before.

“Narrowing your horizons is not necessarily a bad thing. Learn to enjoy your own country.

“Travel does not necessarily have to be exotic. It can be local and more inspirational.”


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