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Forecasting remains ‘impossible’, say aviation leaders

Aviation leaders say forecasting remains ‘impossible’ despite recent government relaxations on international travel.

Senior industry figures hailed the Septmber 17 changes at the Business Travel Association conference, but described them as “well overdue”.

Karen Smart, managing director of Manchester Airport, said: “We’re so out of kilter with domestic and international travel restrictions [and] testing remains a costly and unnecessary barrier for those vaccinated.”

Liverpool Airport chief executive John Irving said: “It’s still confusing. We still need support. To forecast anything is impossible.”

British Airways head of UK and Ireland sales Luke Goggin agreed, saying: “Our network planning guys used to forecast twice a year, now it’s every week.”

EasyJet UK country manager Ali Gayward emphasised the need for flexibility, saying: “It used to take easyJet about six months to get a new route on sale. Now it takes hours and that flexibility is going to remain.”

Irving argued: “Financially it has been incredibly difficult. The government let us down.”

However, all agreed the situation at UK borders had improved. Smart said: “No one has given Border Force a harder time than me. They worked hard over the summer to upgrade the e-gates so the Passenger Locator Form was linked to your passport. You should start to see a better border experience.”

Irving agreed: “The performance at the border has been pretty good.”

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