The travel embargo
The Prime Minister’s words on Friday evening concerning inbound travellers to the United Kingdom were devastating but not unexpected. For once the travel industry was more or less in agreement even if not in detail.
Over the weekend aviation minster Robert Courts confirmed in a Tweet that the long-promised financial support scheme for airports in England would open this month, but gave no firm date. He said the move was a response to the closure of all UK air corridors from today (15 January).
ABTA, at the sharp end of the business, is a trade association covering a multiplex of operators, large, who can sometimes find ways of redemption, to small single outlet enterprises without the resources to fall back on.
Its response to the PM's statement in many ways spoke for all.
“Travel has been affected by the pandemic for over 10 months now, with travel businesses generating little or no income during this time, yet unlike other sectors, such as hospitality and the arts, the Westminster Government hasn’t provided any sector-specific support. The Government needs to address this as a matter of urgency, not only for the jobs and businesses at risk in the sector, but in recognition of the important role the travel industry will play in the UK’s economic recovery and achieving their vision of a Global Britain".
BALPA, whilst specific for its members, said much the same. “These are dire times and we need a clear plan of action and a proper package of support or the UK aviation industry will not be there to support the post Covid-19 recovery.”
The AOA (Airport Operators Association) has expressed much the same thing. “The UK and devolved governments now need to set out as a matter of extreme urgency how they will support airports through this deepening crisis. Business rate support, announced last year and in England not yet even open to applications, is no longer sufficient to ensure airports can weather the difficult months ahead.
However a note of caution is required. Representing amongst others the three major UK carriers, British Airways, easyJet and Virgin Atlantic, Airlines UK has called for restraint “We must work hand in hand with government regardless.”
In a few weeks’ time transport secretary Grant Shapps is due to speak to the Airline Club in what is in effect a public (video) forum open to all. By that time hopefully things will have become far clearer and he will be in a position to deal with questions in a positive and candid manner.
We are a sports-loving nation. Rogers & Hammerstein’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ took over the airwaves just a few weeks ago. Monty Python’s ‘Always Look on the Bright Side (of Life)’ is a fine rendition which we should now grab.
“Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best"