The news that quarantine is to be limited to five days brought a mixed welcome from the industry, with some saying it did not go far enough to restart travel.
Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss said a five-day quarantine “is likely to prove a significant deterrent for travellers, especially those on business”.
“The only way to fully reopen vital trading and travel links, support the UK’s economic recovery and protect more than 500,000 jobs supported by aviation, is to move to a robust pre-departure testing regime to safely replace quarantine as soon as possible,” he said.
Abta was broadly supportive and chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “The test to release scheme in England should help to make overseas travel more attractive and manageable for both holidaymakers and business travellers.”
However, Tanzer added: “There is still more work to be done to get more people travelling and to support the recovery of the sector, including having a testing scheme in place for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, as well as the government moving to a regional approach to quarantine and travel advice.
“It is important that the test to release scheme is kept under review, to make sure that advancements in testing are used to further reduce quarantine to as short a period as possible.”
Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, said the news was “a hugely welcome step”.
“It is a good start and, by more than halving the quarantine period, we should see demand tentatively return and more routes and destinations become viable once again,” he said.
However, he also cautioned: “A test at day five does not get rid of quarantine and that’s why we look forward to working with government to move towards a pre-departure or domestic testing regime that can remove safely the need for self-isolation altogether, as quickly as possible. This is the only way we’re going to comprehensively reopen the market.”
The announcement was also greeted with scepticism by Andrew Crawley, chief commercial officer at American Express Global Business Travel.
“Any imposed quarantine continues to cut off the UK economy from the rest of the world, effectively saying we’re closed for business at a time when we should be getting ready for Brexit and encouraging economic recovery,” he said.
“We appreciate the difficult position the government is in, but there are better ways to prioritize public health while still enabling vital international trade.”
He suggested replacing “self-policed quarantine” with pre-departure testing.
“We know other countries are doing this, and without meaningful action the UK will continue to fall behind,” he said.