Travel firms warn of ‘complete shutdown’ with new rules

Travel firms have warned of a “complete shutdown” across the industry when England goes back into lockdown next week.

Travel and overnight stays in the UK and abroad will be restricted when the “stay home” instruction comes into effect nationwide again from Thursday.

According to Government guidance issued on Saturday night: “This includes staying in a second home, if you own one, or staying with anyone you do not live with or are in a support bubble with.”

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said the rules “will mean a complete shutdown for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic”, but added “public health must come first”.

Budget airline easyJet has called for “urgent” support for the sector, similar to that which has been provided to hospitality.

Chief executive Johan Lundgren said: “Given the steps the Government has taken, which essentially prevents air travel in the UK, our call for sector specific support has never been more urgent.

“The Government has recognised the need to directly support the hospitality sector, where decisions have directly affected its ability to trade.

“The same principle needs to be applied to aviation. The Government’s own statistics show that activity in aviation is already 90% down on pre-pandemic levels, yet to date the Government has still failed to provide any sector specific support.”

The sentiments were echoed by Airlines UK, which said: “Aviation has been devastated by the pandemic, and has essentially never had the opportunity to recover.”

The trade body has called for “a comprehensive restart package” for the industry.

It said in a statement: “This needs to include immediate additional economic support for the winter and steps to support recovery, including urgent rollout of a testing regime, business rates relief for airports, and an emergency waiver of Air Passenger Duty that will be essential for enabling and stimulating international travel – absolutely vital for the UK economy – for as long as we are living with this virus.

“Hundreds of thousands of jobs and our economic recovery are on the line.”

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