After months of uncertainty and a universal travel ban, this week looks set to offer some much-needed light at the end of a very dark tunnel for the UK travel industry.
The government’s air bridge decision, which had been due today but was trailed late on Friday night with more detail to follow on Wednesday, is likely to signal shortly the easing of the Foreign Office’s travel advice.
It might only apply to a handful of destinations, but it’s a move that will bring confidence to the British public to start booking their summer breaks.
It’s yet more positivity after a week in which Hays Travel revealed it was actively seeking additional staff to help with the bounce back (p8).
And yet at the same time, the heartbreaking raft of redundancies announced across the industry lays bare just how desperate the industry has become.
There was Hotelplan Group’s decision to cut up to 27% of its staff across all its British operators (p8), while about 100 pilot jobs and nearly 400 cabin crew look set to be lost at Jet2.com (p8).
Meanwhile, The Travel Network Group’s shock announcement it will acquire rival Global Travel Group (p7) served as a stark reminder this crisis is far from over and that the industry will look very different post-pandemic.
In a session exploring rebuilding trust in the industry, senior figures agreed there is “quite a lot of change to come” when it comes to consumer financial protection.
While it’s less clear what this reform will look like, what is evident is that, as Abta chair Alistair Rowland points out, the industry “should not rely on government” to establish a new scheme (p6).
Given the lack of support from the government for the travel industry so far, it will be a very long tunnel indeed if the industry doesn’t take more steps to help itself.