The travel industry including trade bodies such as ABTA, airports, airlines and unions have begun a day of action and protest to demonstrate how it was one of the hardest-hit industries in the pandemic and the way the government has handled international travel.
The UK’s largest airport group, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) is taking part with all three of its airports marking pre-pandemic flight levels on social media with staff at East Midlands, Stansted and Manchester airports posting pictures of themselves throughout the day, one for every flight that would have left the airports on 23rd June 2019.
Just 147 will depart the 3 MAG airports on 23rd June 2021 compared to 651 on the same day pre-pandemic.
Unite the Union, which represents the majority of airport and airline staff in the UK, has also organised a peaceful protest outside terminal 3 at Manchester Airport.
Staff from Stansted Airport are due to join a march to Westminster with hundreds of others from across the UK travel industry.
East Midlands airport will see “passengers” lounging on sun loungers getting ready to go on holiday to nowhere in a planned photo opportunity.
Charlie Cornish, MAG Group CEO, said: “Aviation has been the sector hardest hit by the pandemic, yet government does not seem to appreciate its economic value or trust its own system for the restart of international travel.
“Despite holding back the recovery of an industry that supports more than 1m jobs, and generates billions of pounds of value, there has been nowhere near the level of support offered to other parts of the economy.
“The whole of the travel industry recognises the need to protect public health and has supported every measure government has required in response to Covid-19.
“However, with so much at stake, it is simply unacceptable that government refuses to explain why it is not opening up travel to many popular destinations.
“Together with airlines, we have been left with no option but to challenge the Government’s lack of transparency, and to protest against the stifling of our recovery through this day of action.”
At Luton Airport, thousands of people from business across the airport came together to speak out and join calls for the government to begin to allow international travel in a meaningful way and do more to save the travel industry.
Alberto Martin, Chief Executive of London Luton Airport, said: “The Government needs to do more to support the aviation industry and the people who depend on it. We are yet to see a meaningful restart to international travel, which is especially worrying as we approach what would have been the peak summer season.
“Whilst we understand the cautious approach taken by the Government, it is not in line with the recommendations put forward by the Global Travel Taskforce to allow the safe and gradual restart of overseas travel. We would therefore urge them to re-consider this approach and acknowledge the massive impact this is having on both the travel industry and consumer confidence more broadly.”
The coming together for a day of action will also include trade bodies from across the travel industry in the UK and each will do their own demonstration of what the pandemic has meant to them and this can be followed on social media using the hashtag #traveldayofaction.
Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, Karen Dee said: “The Government’s overly cautious approach to reopening travel has real-world consequences for the 1.6m jobs in the UK aviation and tourism industries that rely on aviation having a meaningful restart.
“Unless the Government makes a meaningful restart of aviation possible by extending the green list at the next review, moving to rapid and affordable tests for returning travellers and following the examples of the EU and the US by reducing restrictions on fully vaccinated passengers, aviation and travel are in for an extremely difficult summer.
“If the Government decides it cannot reopen travel more meaningfully, then they should stand ready to give substantial financial compensation to airports and others in aviation and tourism.
“Jobs and livelihoods in businesses across the economy that need air connectivity for their success are at risk. The Government cannot afford to let those go.”
The day will also include lobbying MPs and anyone in the industry is encouraged to take part in this by lobbying ministers in Westminster, Cardiff, Belfast and Edinburgh.
You can find out more about the Travel Day of Action here https://www.abta.com/traveldayofaction