The UK Global Travel Taskforce plan to restart international travel is “onerous” and the government “needs to be more ambitious”, according to the head of British Airways.
But Sean Doyle, BA chief executive, forecast the whole of Europe could be “in a much better place” by June and allow travel to recover for the summer.
Doyle described the UK taskforce report as “a step in the right direction” and said: “It’s a commitment to re-open, but we need to be more ambitious.
“The framework could be simpler. It could be more affordable. It could be more easily understood. It does not need to be as onerous as it is to manage the risk we’re dealing with.”
The taskforce has proposed a traffic light system for categorising countries green, amber or red, with quarantine remaining for arrivals from amber countries and expensive PCR tests for arrivals from green.
Speaking at a CAPA Centre for Aviation online summit, Doyle said: “The framework misses out on the ability for vaccinated travellers to travel. I would hope it gets better as we get closer to the summer.
“But we won’t really know what the framework looks like till early May. Our plea would be can it evolve to something a lot more straightforward.
“It could be better and it could be clearer, and we’re making those points to government.
He added: “We need to make sure we have reciprocal arrangements at the end of routes.
“My expectation is that when we get to the end of the second quarter Europe will be in a very different place. Germany is really beginning to scale up its vaccination programme and you see a lot more supply [of vaccines] coming in.
“Europe will see the benefits [of that] as the UK has and government policy needs to look forward to where we will be rather than anchored in where we are today.
“We will be in a much better place and if the framework is in place and anticipates that properly we will see travel recover. The progress on vaccination has been remarkable and gives us room for optimism.”
Doyle also forecast the cost of Covid testing would come down. He said: “Lateral flow tests are very affordable and the UK government is looking at making those available.
“We’re making a PCR test available that will be £60. So we think the supply chain will become more affordable. But also there could be a framework that has less testing involved.”
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