The chief executive of dnata Travel Group has written to the foreign secretary calling for a review of the current FCO “blanket” ban on travel.
John Bevan has written to Dominic Raab asking for a review of the FCO’s indefinite ban on travel and for discussions around air corridors to be accelerated. He also calls for a return to destination-specific advice, arguing that these measures would help the industry “to send a positive message to the British public” that the world is “open for them”.
Bevan says that after “ten weeks on the ropes” his businesses, and the entire travel industry, “can now attempt to throw a few punches of its own and get back in the fight”. However, he reiterates that the industry needs the government’s help to do so, and said that without this intervention to speed up plans to make international travel possible there was a “very real possibility that travel businesses will not survive the summer”.
And while he, and the five managing directors of dnata’s UK businesses have supported this campaign, he believes the need to change the FCO advice is “a more critical and pressing issue”.
Bevan writes: “We support their case, but believe a more critical and pressing issue is the continued imposition of the FCO’s guidance that advises against all but essential overseas travel, ‘indefinitely’. That guidance effectively delegitimises overseas travel and, more than the 14-day quarantine, undermines any real hope that demand can start to return.”
In the letter, Bevan said that his brands were ready to help clients keen to travel when restrictions are lifted, but said their “ability to do so is being made immeasurably harder” while the existing FCO advice is in place.
He adds: “Furthermore, since, like most travel businesses, we operate on a 28-day cancellation cycle, we will have little choice but to cancel holidays for departure in July in the coming days as our policy has to be guided by the current FCO advice.
“This means holidays that could be taken will have to be cancelled, even though the destinations they are going to are opening, and the customers due to take them are ready to travel – through no fault of ourselves, the destinations or the customer.
“We would therefore urge you and your colleagues at the FCO to review the current policy and accelerate any discussions you are having with other governments for the creation of the so-called air corridors, and a return to destination-specific advice – and help us to send a positive message to the British public that the world is once more open for them.”
Bevan highlights the size of dnata within the letter, employs 1,300 in the UK and works with 300 airlines, 2,000 tourist boards, and 5,000 hotel partners, and the impact the pandemic has had on his business.
He said: “Like every travel brand in this country, our organisation has been hit very hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Across the group, we are processing tens of thousands of refunds, have seen income from forward bookings fall to almost zero, and have had to impose major cost-reduction measures across all our brands to survive the months ahead. We have also welcomed and made use of the government’s Job Retention Scheme, which has been a significant factor in our ability to continue to operate.”
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