26 OCTOBER 2020
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Transport Secretary Grant Shapps appearance at Airline 2050 last Monday proved to be as much a damp squib as ABTA the previous week. (See ABTA 1 – Shapps and quarantine in last week's BTN.)
After a prepared speech his interrogator was the vastly experienced Financial Times International Business Editor, Peggy Hollinger, bursting to get her questions out, and then time limited. No networking with the cabinet minister either.
On Brexit, Mr Shapps said: “We very much hope to have a deal in place.”
He said he expected the European Union to come forward with an agreement to allow UK – EU flights to continue beyond 31 December, if no deal is completed.
The Transport Secretary has said he hopes the current 14 days of self-isolation required of most arrivals to the UK could be almost halved from the start of December.
He told the virtual conference that he is “very, very, very keen to ensure that people can safely travel.”
Mr Shapps co-chairs the Global Travel Taskforce with the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. He revealed the body is to recommend to the Prime Minister that incoming passengers should be able to take a PCR test, at their expense, a week after arrival.
If it is negative they will be able to leave quarantine. The so-called “test-and-release” scheme is likely to allow passengers to leave quarantine on day eight of their self-isolation.
The Transport Secretary said: “We’ve already worked incredibly fast. We’re talking to vast parts of the testing industry.”
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Malcolm Ginsberg, Edgware, North London
Mr Bell certainly raises a serious point and BTN will follow up for next weeks issue.
Chris Bell, Ashford, Kent
I am surprised that given the major impact the ending of UK Tax Free Sales will have across the UK but more apparent at airports across the country, this non publicised policy creeps ever closer to becoming reality by 1st January 2021. The impact on jobs at airports, high streets, hotel and other supporting businesses just as Brexit hits and Covid continues to decimate the airline, retail and hospitality industries, why would the UK disadvantage itself, give the EU a golden ticket and potentially drive tourists and transit passengers to choose other EU hubs to either transit through or depart from as their final European Trips rather than come to the UK to shop and support the British industries who really need foreign visitors and UK travellers to help keep them viable. The estimated job losses across airports, retail, hospitality, distribution logistics and manufacturing are massive and disadvantages the UK who will be the only European Country not to have a Tax Free Concession Policy aside of still offering tax free on tobacco and alcohol at airside duty free shops. The UK Travel Retail Forum (UKTRF) should you wish to explore further would be the best source to obtain full details and I urge that this story is tracked along with the other weekly news feeds.
Gillian Jones, Crawley
Mr Shapps is very adept at dealing with tricky questions. But what does he really think?