Transport secretary Grant Shapps has again advised against booking foreign holidays and indicated other countries’ vaccination programmes will be a factor in deciding where travel is permitted this summer.
Speaking on Radio 4, Shapps was asked if it was still too early to book foreign holidays.
He replied: “Yes, the Global Travel Taskforce that I’m running reports on the 12th April. We’ve said it will remain illegal to travel internationally until at least the 17th May. That’s an at the earliest date.”
He ruled out suggestions of travel to Greece and Cyprus before this date, which have both said they will accept any UK traveller who has been vaccinated.
“Remember you will not be able to travel for leisure before 17 May,” he said.
Asked if it was okay to book for “June, July”, he replied: “I would encourage people to look to 12 April when we publish the Global Travel Taskforce report, because we are not only weighing up the extraordinary 43% of British adults that have been vaccinated, but of course where the vaccination programmes are elsewhere, so there are lots of questions… about how safe it will be to travel around.”
Majorca this week revealed plans to vaccinate its entire population in the next four months, potentially giving it UK government approval for summer travel.
Shapps also revealed the government was about to make a statement on aviation emissions.
“I’m about to produce the world’s first transport decarbonisation plan, which will look at our overall output of carbon,” he said.
Transport was “the biggest contributor to carbon in this country, now about nearly a third of it”, he said, with the government’s target to cut emissions by 2050 to net zero.
Shapps was asked how the proposed cut in Air Passenger Duty on domestic flights would square with a net zero emissions commitment.
He said he wanted to do both and would do that in future by using “mandates”, for example compelling the use of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for domestic flights.
“There’s a weird situation at the moment where if you fly abroad and back, you pay half as much APD than if you connect within the UK, and that can’t be right; it doesn’t help keep our communities together, it doesn’t help the country operate.”
He was asked if it was right to cut the cost of flying ahead of November’s UN Climate Change conference in Glasgow.
“What we will do though is make sure APD – a tax which was not designed with carbon control in mind – we will make sure it is not collecting any less money overall but moving towards Sustainable Aviation Fuel.”
He said it was easier to remove carbon on domestic flights using SAF than on international services, because of the distances.
Shapps was asked whether cutting APD would not just make domestic flights more competitive with train services, which are less environmentally damaging.
He replied: “This isn’t as far away as you think, actually. Sustainable Aviation Fuel is already a reality.”