Airlines have put forward a plan for the resumption of air travel in a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps.
The blueprint, from trade body Airlines UK, calls for greater leniency towards vaccinated travellers and “proportionate” green and amber categories from 28 June.
The letter states: “Given the incredible efficacy of vaccines and their critical role in easing domestic restrictions, we believe that the framework can safely be adjusted to provide a pathway for vaccinated people to travel without restriction, alongside steps to reduce restrictions for green and amber categories, making them more proportionate for travellers.”
Airlines UK said the vaccine’s effectiveness “has been recognised by Europe”, which was now reopening.
“Today, 32 countries exempt travellers from quarantine and 27 from testing if fully vaccinated. The failure to adopt a similar approach risks the UK falling further behind the EU’s reopening of international travel, including the critical transatlantic market.
“Fully vaccinated travellers should be exempt from testing or self-isolation on arrival into the UK from green or amber countries, with verification possible via the NHS App.”
Airlines UK’s second suggestion is to make green and amber border requirements “more proportionate and affordable”.
“For amber countries, the government should stop advising against travel and ensure testing and isolation requirements are more proportionate.
“Where PCR tests are required for travel from high-risk destinations, there needs to be a genuine effort by government to drive down the cost of testing, by removing VAT and reducing the cost of NHS PCR tests to better stimulate the market. The lack of progress in this regard since the reopening of international travel on 17 May is both bewildering and disappointing.”
Thirdly, Airlines UK called for transparent criteria from government. “Data has shown clearly that the green list can be expanded safely, including to many European countries, the US and the Caribbean, as well as to island territories separate from their mainland country and as per the ‘islands policy’ from last year.”
Airlines UK also asked for the traffic light system to be applied “proportionately”. It said: “Overall, the current traffic light framework… does not reflect the risk of travel nor facilitate safe travel as it should.
“The roadmap for the wider economy does not take a zero-risk approach to unlocking, and the same approach should be taken for travel and in the measures that apply at each tier of the traffic light system, whilst maintaining a robust red list.”
The letter concluded: “If a meaningful reopening is not possible this summer given current government policy and application of the Global Travel Taskforce recommendations, then targeted economic support including 100% furlough extension will be essential to ensure UK airlines are able to reach the point when a restart is possible, in order to protect many tens of thousands of jobs.”