Industry sources warned this week it’s not realistic to expect a date for travel to restart when Boris Johnson sets out a roadmap for removing lockdown next Monday.
The prime minister said he wants his February 22 announcement to offer a “cautious but irreversible” emergence from lockdown.
A leading airline source told Travel Weekly: “We want international travel in the PM’s statement, but we don’t expect a series of dates. We expect he’ll outline the start of the process, not the solution. We’ll only get a sense of the pathway out of this. Then it’s urgent to have a group advising on the pathway.”
The source insisted: “The extent to which travel is in there will give us the starting point for discussion.”
A second source agreed: “We don’t expect any detail. We want an acknowledgment the industry needs a pathway and that the government will work with us on it.
“We also need support through the period we’re closed.”
A third industry source said: “We want recognition of travel in the roadmap and to sit down with the government so we’re ready to press the button as soon as we can.
“We recognise every sector is pressuring the government, but it’s becoming untenable. There has to be a way of opening safely well before the autumn.”
Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, said: “People want dates, but it would be dangerous to give dates. The government can’t be certain of anything.
“It would be lovely if we could start booking holidays from May. But the fear is if we open too soon we go back to square one. I don’t think the industry could survive another summer with no travel. We need to see a way out, but we don’t need to see the date the gates will open.”
Bowen added: “It’s so important the roadmap gives people hope and the government realises we need help.”
The government’s hotel quarantine regime came into force in England on Monday despite instructions to airlines, airports and Border Force staff only going out on Saturday.
An industry source told Travel Weekly: “Border Force didn’t seem to think there were any major issues. Airlines reported nothing disastrous.”
There was criticism of the lack of segregation of passengers from red‑list destinations on flights, but the source said: “The government view is everybody faces 10 days’ isolation and has three Covid tests to take, so that supersedes any mixing.”
However, Bowen said: “Hotel quarantine has killed bookings. It’s not just the 33 countries [on the list], it’s the potential of a country joining the list. People are frightened they will have to pay £1,750.”
The government warned other countries could be added to the likes of Portugal, Brazil, South Africa and the UAE. An airport source warned: “The red list is going to get longer before it gets shorter.”
Speaking on Monday, Johnson said: “I will be setting out as much of a timetable as I possibly can on February 22.”
This is a community-moderated forum.
All post are the individual views of the respective commenter and are not the expressed views of Travel Weekly.
By posting your comments you agree to accept our Terms & Conditions.