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Article from BTNews 13 SEPTEMBER 2021

Air industry in crisis plea! *

Airlines UK and AOA (Airport Operators Association), the two leading trade organisations dealing with air travel, have today published a letter to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps ahead of the Government’s Global Travel Taskforce’s final checkpoint review.

It highlights that UK traffic levels (around 50% of 2019 levels) are significantly behind competing European levels including France (which is seeing around 70% of 2019 traffic), Italy (70%), Spain (70%), Greece (95%) and Germany (60%). The figures are based on actual flight movements as recorded by EUROCONTROL.

In short, it says that we need a simplified system with a more balanced approach to risk; as has been taken with the domestic economy.

This means:

  • Fully vaccinated travellers and anyone travelling from low-risk countries should now be able to travel without restrictions or testing; just like domestic UK travel.
  • Greater certainty and predictability so that travellers and families are not constantly looking over their shoulders in case of rule changes, disruption or significant unexpected costs.
  • Covid kept at bay through a red list, applicable only to the highest-risk countries.

Whilst the letter does not say so it implies an industry in crisis.  

In the letter the two Chief Executive Officers, Tim Alderslade (Airlines UK), and Karen Deane (AOA) offer to meet Mr Shapps “to discuss this in more detail”.

Please see the respective web sites for the full letter and checkpoint review.

Also in this issue European air travel figures for August.

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OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS (All times and dates are GMT)

All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum

Allan Schoenherr, Prague, CZ

Having flown home to the UK a couple of weeks ago I agree that the system needs addressing. It is totally unfit for purpose and is at odds with how most countries across Europe are operating. Let vaccinated travellers fly without the need for a PCR test, offer antigen tests at cost for those returning from higher risk areas and keep the mask mandate in the terminals and in flight. Seems like a cheaper alternative for both passenger and all operators etc and removes all the confusion. It also removes the ability of these scam testing companies to rip travellers off left right and centre.

Donal O\\'Hagan, Ireland, Dublin

Is there any likelihood of the USA ban on European\'s being lifted before the 23rd of Sept? What\'s the latest on the grapevine?

Barry Graham, Washington, DC

You could add to that "No masks required for vaccinated people" or maybe "No flights for unvaccinated people". If there are people that will only travel if others wear masks, then have separate areas at the back for those that feel that masks are necessary.

Gillian Joyce, Chingford - London

It will be interesting to see when the actual airport figures for August are published and note how much Heathrow has slipped from its traditional first place.

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