Airlines and airports will need further government support to survive a potentially "bleak" 2021 if key transatlantic and short-haul leisure routes aren’t placed on the UK’s "green list", pilots union Balpa has said.
The union, along with aviation trade body Airlines UK, have welcomed the transport committee’s review of the Global Travel Taskforce’s 9 April report, which presented a framework for the resumption of international travel from 17 May.
The committee, however, has branded the taskforce’s recommendations "vague and costly" and overly "cautious", and warned they risk putting a 17 May resumption at jeopardy. "Where the industry craved certainty, the government has failed to provide it," said chair Huw Merriman.
It has urged government to reveal how countries will be categorised under the taskforce’s proposed traffic light system by 1 May, and explain the criteria by which countries will move between the risk categories.
MPs are also calling for the government to cut the cost of testing, and the burden to passengers; work towards mutually recognised travel health certification with destinations; cut border queues, fully digitise passenger locator forms; and roll all Covid travel measures and documentation into a single app.
Balpa general secretary Brian Strutton said: "I agree with the select committee that the UK aviation and travel sectors face an ’urgent, existential crisis’ which is a result of government policies to control the coronavirus.
"I would go further and say that unless the transatlantic routes and a significant proportion of short-haul holiday routes are placed on the green list at the earliest opportunity, then airlines and airports will need government funding to survive a bleak 2021."
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the trade body for UK registered airlines, added: "Airlines agree with the committee that consumers need as much clarity as possible as to where they can travel to from 17 May, as soon as possible, and that testing costs must come down further so they are affordable to families.
"Good progress has been made by the government on costs since the Global Travel Taskforce report was published but there is more that can be done, in particular reducing the cost of NHS PCR tests and removing the levying of VAT on all aspects of the testing process."