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British Pilots Slam “Ludicrously Cautious” Travel Restrictions

Pilots have slammed the UK’s “ludicrously cautious” travel restrictions. The British Airline Pilots Association (Balpa) has warned that the British aviation industry is the ‘hardest hit’ in Europe by restrictions on international travel.

Balpa conducted an analysis of official European air traffic data for June 2021. The number of flights into and out of the UK has collapsed by three-quarters, 73 per cent, in the latest official data, compared to 2019. The data shows that Gatwick and Manchester airports are the worst affected in Europe, with Heathrow and Stansted close behind, the association said on June 20.

According to world trade body the International Air Transport Association, 860,000 jobs in UK aviation travel and tourism have been lost or are on furlough and are at risk of being lost.

Brian Strutton, BALPA Acting General Secretary, “It’s official. The UK aviation industry is the hardest hit in Europe, caused by the UK Governments ludicrously cautious restrictions on international travel. Hapless Ministers give all the appearance of deliberately attacking aviation and tormenting the public with their mixed messages over summer holidays. BALPA is demanding that the UK Government gets its act together and opens the US routes and European holiday travel destinations that it has blocked with no published evidence at all.

“If the country is going to build back better from the pandemic and build new international links with partners for trade and travel, we are going to need a thriving aviation industry. There is no time to hide behind task forces and reviews.

“This week pilots will be calling on the Government to act now to save jobs by taking a transparent, evidence-based approach to travel restrictions, extending the furlough scheme and helping airlines and airports weather this storm through direct financial support.

“The Government claims to have given £7 billion in support to UK aviation but most of this is either standard furlough payments or loans which the industry will struggle to pay back with virtually no income. By contrast, European and US Governments have given direct financial support to their airlines which the UK Government promised but has failed to deliver,” he added.

Pilots are calling for the UK Government to:

  • Allow international travel to return safely and in a risk managed way by properly implementing the Global Travel Taskforce’s plan for a transparent traffic-light system, by expanding the Green list in line with the evidence and making restrictions more proportionate, whilst keeping a strong red list to guard against variants.
  • Bring forward a package of tailored financial support, including extension of furlough support, recognising that the travel sector’s ability to trade and generate income is much slower than first anticipated and more gradual than for businesses in the domestic economy.

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Written by

Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.

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