Delaying travel’s return until September will cost the UK £3 billion in lost tourism spend and put 500,000 jobs at risk, Airlines UK has claimed.
The trade body argues that permitting only a limited return to travel from 17 May would have a “catastrophic impact”. Airlines UK said the hit to UK GDP of delaying any restart until September would be £26.2 billion, in addition to lost trade of £55.7 billion.
“Around 574,000 jobs would be at risk including 73,000 within UK tourism. The wider hit to the UK’s tourism sector would cost £3 billion.”
In contrast, it said, a 17 May reopening would generate £47.6 billion and help secure more than a million threatened jobs.
“The UK government has the opportunity to set a framework to re-establish international travel for others to follow,” it said.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “For many of us, aviation is associated with a holiday or much needed break. However, this new report demonstrates just how vital the UK’s air links are to our economic prosperity, be it for British exporters, the hospitality sector or companies with an international footprint.
“The data refutes the claim that keeping aviation shut down, or delaying restart beyond the summer, is a price worth paying – with each day planes are grounded costing tens of millions of pounds and putting thousands of jobs at risk. The priority now is clear; ensuring a durable framework for a risk-based approach to reopening air travel from 17 May.”
Sean Doyle, British Airways chief executive, added: “The emotional and economic cost of not starting to re-open international travel on May 17 is clear.
"With more than 50% of the UK adult population vaccinated in a programme that has been the envy of the world, the government must now urgently provide a phased, risk-based framework for travel to re-start this summer that will save the economy and jobs, allow business to restart and reunite friends and families.”