Commenting on the government’s plan to force holidaymakers to pay around £120 each for Covid tests to travel abroad this summer, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland said, “We recognise that strict testing measures need to be in place for travel in and out of the country to protect people’s health and rebuild confidence.
“However, the plans in their current form need improving and to be delivered alongside a wider package of aviation industry support.
“The bill for testing each traveller will run into hundreds of pounds extra on top of the cost of a holiday for families wanting to travel this summer. Households on lower incomes will basically be Covid-taxed out of a much-needed break. This would not only be unfair but harmful for a travel industry desperately in need of recovery.
“To put things into perspective, the UK has lost an estimated 5,164 aviation-related jobs every month since February 2020, more than twice as many as France and Germany’s sectors during the same period.
“The French and German governments acknowledged that air travel was going to be hit especially hard by restrictions necessary to contain the pandemic and gave more than twice the financial support for every aviation job than the UK.
“UK ministers have paid lip service to providing aviation support but left the sector’s workers to pay a disproportionate price. The government must now provide an urgent package of support to ensure the aviation sector, which is crucial to the UK’s economic recovery, is able to take off again,” she concluded.
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Throughout 2020 UK aviation suffered from an unprecedented collapse in demand for air travel with air traffic 70 per cent lower than the previous year. The interconnected impact on ground handling, airports, and the whole supply chain is absolutely devastating.
Unite is calling for the promised government aviation support package to be delivered and include targeted payroll support, conditional government loans, grants and requirements to maintain and expand PSOs (public service obligation routes) to ensure regional connectivity.
The union also wants to see guarantees around minimum provision of ground support and air navigation services at levels that will deliver a quick recovery as volume increases.
By Ryan Fletcher