Eighty MPs have written to the prime minister Boris Johnson calling for an end to quarantine and for airport testing to be introduced to get business moving.
The Future of Aviation Group warned Boris Johnson that Britain is at risk of being left behind the more than 30 countries, including Germany, that have already introduced testing to free business and leisure travellers from quarantine when returning from countries not on government ‘safe lists’.
In a report setting out a ten-point plan to revive the travel industry, the MPs said it was “imperative” the government introduce testing as soon as possible so passengers from high-risk countries who tested negative were freed from 14-day self-isolation early.
“Without testing, we risk not only limiting leisure travel but also damaging our aspirations for a truly global Britain,” the group told the Telegraph.
Future of Aviation Group includes Graham Brady, chair of the influential Tory 1922 committee, its founder Henry Smith, and ex-aviation minister Paul Maynard. Half of the 80 MPs in the group are from Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party.
“With many of our current and future trading partners currently subject to a 14-day quarantine we are sending precisely the wrong message at the wrong time.
“We know that many within the industry have been pushing for testing for a considerable time, with Heathrow Airport waiting for government approval to start a trial, which could begin as early as the end of this month.”
Ministers are due to meet to consider alternative options to quarantine, including tests on arrival in the UK.
The Future of Aviation group’s report, which has also been sent to transport secretary Grant Shapps, also calls for regional corridors to low risk islands like Spain’s Balearics and Canaries and cited the US as an example where the current “restrictive” quarantine policy could damage trade relationships.
The report also called for extending furlough to March 2021 amid research suggesting as many as 780,000 jobs across the sector are at risk.
It urged government to consider a temporary suspension of air passenger duty, which researchers say could save 45 per cent of air routes that would otherwise be lost by cutting up to £500 off the most expensive flights.
The letter also appealed for a 12-month deferral of business rates on airports in England, similar to moves in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, noting that they had paid £70 million between March and June when national passenger numbers fell by 97 per cent.
Some of the measures mirror the demands made by Abta through its Save Future Travel campaign.
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