Aviation leaders have expressed frustration at the government’s continuing failure to relax blanket quarantine restrictions on most travel destinations despite criticism from all sides.

Karen Dee, chief executive of the Airport Operators Association (AOA), accused the government failing to understand “the scale and the urgency of the challenges we face” in the industry.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly Future of Travel webcast, Dee said: “We’re pretty disappointed with where we’ve got to. There were a lot of promising signals in the early stages [of the crisis]. The government said early on it was considering a sector-specific deal [for aviation] and we made good progress on health measures.

“The Job Retention Scheme has been really helpful. But beyond that there is a real failure by government to understand the scale and the urgency of the challenges we face because of quarantine.”

Dale Keller, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR UK) agreed, saying: “The government’s lack of decision-making is pulling us back. We’re falling behind when we should be taking a lead.

“That can be turned around, but it needs decisions to be made sooner rather than later.”

Iata UK country manager Simon McNamara insisted: “We’re not just disappointed, we’re frustrated. The numbers show we’re going backwards.

“When Spain was removed from the travel corridors list, we saw bookings through Iata’s systems drop 10% overnight.”

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