Airlines Brace for More Travel Chaos as Boris Johnson Puts UK in Lockdown

Airlines ‘planning mass cancellations’ as non-essential outbound travel banned.

The travel industry and holidaymakers are once again thrown into turmoil as Boris Johnson last night put the UK into a national lockdown with all non-essential travel banned. Just as low-cost carrier Easyjet announced an increase in flights to Spain’s Canary Islands, the travel ban is likely to have a devastating effect on the airline industry and the travel and tourism sector alike.

The move will be a huge blow to a travel industry reeling from COVID-19 and after a glimmer of hope was offered for winter holidays and future bookings with the opening travel corridors to the Canaries and the Maldives.

Following the announcement, Paul Charles, of the PC Agency, who has been a leading voice in the sector during the pandemic tweeted: “I understand that airline planning teams are tonight working on cancelling the vast majority of leisure flights from 5th November to 2nd December, as the @FCDOtravelGovUK advice is about to be changed to a ban on all non-essential travel.”

EasyJet Responds

Garry Wilson, chief executive of EasyJet Holidays, said: “Whilst today’s announcement is disappointing as it came with no travel industry consultation or pre-warning, we are contacting thousands of our customers to share their options and offer reassurance.

“The steps the government has taken, which effectively prevents leisure air travel from the UK, has caused further disappointment for our customers who have been looking forward to well-earned holidays, many of whom have already faced disruption following the inconsistency of Covid-19 policies across the UK.”

He added: “We need to work to get Europe flying again in a more structured European wide approach led by scientific data, with an effective testing system and consistent protocols across the continent. A standard scheme of testing across Europe is key as it will provide more certainty for customers and get them travelling with confidence again.”

Abta-“public health must come first”

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of Abta, said “public health must come first”, but urged the government to offer further clarification on the impact of the measures for the travel industry and to ensure a testing regime was in place when restrictions were lifted.

He said, quote: “Today’s announcement that holidays in the UK and abroad will not be allowed under lockdown in England will mean a complete shut down for travel businesses which have already been severely damaged by the pandemic – but public health must come first.

“We’re pleased to see the government has recognised the significant impact the latest lockdown will have on businesses and has extended the furlough scheme until the start of December. The government must also make good progress with the Global Travel Taskforce, ensuring a testing regime is ready to go as soon as lockdown is lifted.”

He added: “We will be seeking further clarification from the government on the full implications of these latest measures for the travel industry, as well as assessing the support measures available for the sector. Anyone due to travel imminently on a package holiday should speak to their travel company to discuss their options.”

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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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