Not even yet on the brink of recovery, airlines and the travel industry are still feeling the fallout effects from the Coronavirus pandemic. Government guidelines enforcing rules and regulations to enable flying and travelling to other countries have been enabled, but is this enough to save the travel industry?
The FCDO, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office still advised against non essential international travel, but how has this been met by individuals? Are travelers making the most of their chance to take their holidays, albeit amidst unforeseen circumstances, or has confidence been lost? If we combine this with quarantine periods after arriving back to your original destination and the turbulence caused by the persistence of virus across the globe, many are wondering what hope there is for the travel industry in the coming months.
As with any industry, each airline will provide their own guidelines for safety while flying, such as all passengers to wear facemasks unless any condition, medical or other impedes this. Other guidelines include to remain seated, always follow guidance from airline crews, use contactless methods of payment wherever possible, reduced food and drink service and facilities, alongside avoiding flying if ill or showing any of the coronavirus symptoms.
But it is not these measures that prospecting travelers are concerned about necessarily; it is the quarantine periods upon return and the constant threat that it could change at a moment’s notice that is causing much of the uproar. It’s impossible to book a holiday in a month’s time not knowing whether you’ll then be forced with a mandatory 14 day quarantine when you return.
The travel industry is calling for clear messages in areas such as quarantine measures relating to travel and help in schemes to aid recovery such as cutting APD, Air Passenger Duty. Currently adopting a 14 day quarantine period for passengers travelling back from countries considered a coronavirus risk has been deemed to be too long and the government has been urged to help the travel industry by adopting regulations that will support safe travel and more importantly, a safe return.
The budget airline EasyJet has this week shared its potential future plans to introduce a decreased flight schedule over the coming weeks and into months, with Coronavirus fears continuing to spread. They will direct their efforts into ‘profitable flying’ on the back of the UK lockdown which unfortunately led to thousands of job losses.
The EasyJet CEO, Johan Lundgren is trying to make his voice heard stating there is ‘still time to rescue the airline industry’ and believes highly in the need for Covid testing on the frontline at UK airport borders, joining the campaign in the fight to save ‘safe flying’.
This comes off the back of news that families holidaying and having traveled to seven Greek Islands had reportedly had to pay thousands of pounds to ensure their safe return home ahead of their planned departure due to the Transport Secretary making an official on the spot announcement that the islands were to be included within the ‘red’ quarantine list.
Noted as Europe’s largest airline, and in what has been said to have been in coronavirus lockdown recovery, Easyjet has declared it has seen a 40% decrease in its anticipated flight schedule which is now expected to fall further with cancellations due to flights after the restrictions on Crete, Lesvos, Mykonos, Santorini, Serifos, Tinos and Zakynthos (Zante) from 9th September.
Industry and airline bosses remained unhappy with progression in this field and following the replacement of Kelly Tolhurst, Britain’s aviation minister, the new aviation minister Robert Courts is expected to shed some new light on how the airlines can move forward in line with the risks of Covid-19.
The industry is hoping that the Government along with the Department for Transport will amend the measures currently in place reducing the current quarantine protocol from a 14 day period to eight days, which would also include testing on the eighth day after arrival back in the UK.
It has also brought comments from Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG that runs airlines such as British Airlines, who in what was to be his final speech in his role shared his views on the quarantine regulations. He said that ‘Quarantine restrictions have had a huge impact on the already troubled aviation industry, with transatlantic restrictions being particularly significant.’
With coronavirus now beginning to rear its head again in the UK and in the midst of impending measures banning social gatherings for more than 6 people from Monday 14th September, implementing harsher consequences for enforcement than before brings more uncertainty for an industry already in trouble.
Travelers are losing confidence in booking holidays and making travel arrangements, and with Portugal now the latest country to be added to the red list, the pressure is on for new quarantine regulations to help restore faith for people who wish to travel during these unprecedented times.