A group of 80 MPs have urged Boris Johnson to replace the government’s quarantine strategy in favour of a more nuanced airport testing policy.
The MPs, including 40 Conservatives, belonging to the Future of Aviation Group warned the UK risked “being left behind” when compared to the approach taken by more than 30 other countries which have already introduced testing.
In its new report published in The Telegraph, the group set out a ten-point plan to aid the travel industry, with the adoption of a testing system "as soon as possible" so passengers from high-risk countries who tested negative were freed from quarantine early, being considered as “imperative” by MPs.
“Without testing, we risk not only limiting leisure travel but also damaging our aspirations for a truly global Britain,” said the report.
“With many of our current and future trading partners currently subject to a 14-day quarantine we are sending precisely the wrong message at the wrong time.
“We know that many within the industry have been pushing for testing for a considerable time, with Heathrow waiting for government approval to start a trial, which could begin as early as the end of this month.”
Ministers are due to meet later this month to consider alternative options to 14-day quarantine measures – including tests on arrival in the UK with a second five or eight days later, allowing holidaymakers and business travellers to shorten their time in quarantine.
The Future of Aviation group’s report, which has also been sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps, also calls for regional corridors to low-risk destinations such as the Balearic and Canary islands.
The report also called for extending furlough to March 2021 amid research suggesting as many as 780,000 jobs across the sector are at risk.
It also urged government to consider a temporary suspension of air passenger duty – with research claiming it could save 45% of routes that would otherwise be lost by cutting up to £500 off the most expensive flights.
And the report appealed for a 12-month deferral of business rates on airports in England - noting that they had paid £70 million the rates between March and June when national passenger numbers fell by 97%.